Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I knew it!

It seems Boeing — whose X-37 is already flying secretive missions for the Air Force — can easily upgrade the spaceplane to be a man-rated craft.

Grantz revealed Boeing’s plans for an X-37C model, which would be nearly twice as long as the B version, with sufficient capacity for up to six astronauts. The X-37C could be controlled robotically – or by a human pilot. ‘Once qualified for human flight, these vehicles could transport a mix of astronauts and cargo to the [International Space Station] and offer a much gentler return to a runway landing for the space tourism industry,’ Grantz wrote in a report.

Yes, that does give the U.S. another option to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station. But it also affords a capability similar to that of the Dyna-Soar. And as the X-37s only operator, wouldn't the Air Force love a crewed, semi-autonomous vehicle with a decent payload capacity that can pass over just about any spot on Earth soon after launch? Hmmmm.

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