Raumfahrt - USAF-Mini-Shuttle X-37B nutzt NASA´s Shuttle Hangars


NASA today confirmed long-known plans for a secretive military space plane program to take over the use of two former shuttle hangars at Kennedy Space Center.
The Air Force's X-37B program will occupy Orbiter Processing Facilities 1 and 2, which are connected to each other, near the Vehicle Assembly Building.
The partnership "ensures the facilities will again be used for their originally-intended purpose — processing spacecraft," NASA said in a press release. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
An Air Force spokesman was unavailable for comment this afternoon.
The Boeing Co., which operates two reusable, unmanned X-37B space planes, in January announced plans for the program to use OPF-1.
The Air Force did not comment then but had previously confirmed it was studying potential savings from consolidating X-37B operations, housed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, near their Cape Canaveral launch site. The program's budget is classified.
KSC unofficially acknowledged that OPF-2 was also part of the deal.
NASA on Wednesday said renovations of the two hangars are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Painted blue doors on OPF-1 already tout it as "Home of the X-37B," marketing visible to passing tour buses.
NASA said the program had also completed testing to confirm the space planes one-fourth the size of a shuttle orbiter — measuring 29 feet long with with wingspans of nearly 15 feet, with small payload bays — could land on KSC's former shuttle runway.
Two different X-37B Orbital Test Vehicles have launched and landed since 2010. The first vehicle launched on its second mission nearly two years ago and remains in orbit.
The X-37B's mission is unknown. Speculation has envisioned it serving as everything from a sensor platform to a satellite deployer or repair vehicle to a system for attacking satellites or ground targets.
The Air Force describes it simply as a demonstration program for testing resuable space vehicle technologies.
The state is renovating KSC's third shuttle hangar, OPF-3, before its planned lease to Boeing as an assembly facility for the company's CST-100 commercial crew capsule.
Quelle: Florida Today
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