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Space Shuttle Finished? Think Again!

by John M. White |

We keep hearing that the Space Shuttle program is coming to an end after the next 3 launches. Much hand-wringing is going on down at Cape Canaveral despite President Obama's promise of more jobs. USAF X-37B Orbital Vehicle Well, we have all watched how unemployment would not go above 8% (you should live here in Michigan!), and how he was going to focus like a lazer on the jobs issue. So he jets down to the Cape, and beams about how many new jobs will be created despite the cancellation of the next manned vehicle program by limiting funding. Change we can believe in? Well, Hersch, hang on to your hat. Our ol' USAF is going to launch its X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Thursday at 7:51pm. This reusable, unmanned, orbital test vehicle is 29'3" long with a 14'11" wingspan and is 9'6" high. At launch it will weigh about 11,000 pounds, is reported to be able to stay aloft for 270 days, and then brought in for a landing on a runway. X-37B Orbital Test VehicleTouted by the USAF as the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft, it is launched into low earth orbit by a rocket and then autonomously re-enters the atmosphere, descends and lands horizontally on a runway. The Air Force intends to test technologies like advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics, electromechanical flight systems and much more. It is anticipated it will demonstrate the practicality of autonomous orbital flight, re-entry and landing. Why is it our government has so many disparate programs by competing entities? It seems that, just like after World War II, we have turf wars to determine who will control what part of the planet by military branch when our civilian space program is placed in the closest dumpster. So, President Obama, where is the manned version? Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!

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