The Air Force’s X-37B is approaching a year in orbit.

My annual birthday-month fund-raising drive for Behind the Black is now on-going. Not only do your donations help pay my bills, they give me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.


Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

The Air Force’s X-37B is approaching one year in orbit.

The ship in space now is on its second flight, and the third total flight of the program.



  • Kelly Starks

    I wish they would propose their X-37C maned crew transport craft. Much slicker then CST-100 – though NASA wants retro Apollo now a days.

  • wodun

    It would be interesting to know if the x37c fully utilizes the capabilities of the Atlas V. Six crew may be all NASA would want on any given mission but in the long run, a vehicle that carries the maximum number of crew allowable by the capabilities of the launcher would be beneficial to Boeing’s other potential customers.

  • wade

    it is More involved than Both of your comments.

  • Kelly Starks

    >..would be beneficial to Boeing’s other potential customers.

    What other potential customers? Assuming you could get a launch down to $200M, with 6 folks that’s $33M a person. Hardly a price point thats going to explode maned space or space tourism. Bigelow only wanted 6 people per flight – and they have issues with market size.

    …. I wonder what yo could do with a X-37 to expand it? it obviously has all the systems needed for a successful mini shuttle. Which is most of the high cost parts of a bigger shuttle. It can’t get to much better on the nose of a Atlas before you reach the atlases limits – but you could expand it to add internal upper stage capabilities? I’E if it used the First stage of the Atlas (or another booster) and absorbed upper stage delta-V duties, at the least you could save a lot of expense over the expendable stage. Shuttle saved a mint in direct per launch costs with the orbiter that way. (Not that it maters when you have NASA overhead adn demand for high costs, and only fly a couple times a year.) such a craft would be a lot more marketable then a Deamchaser.

  • Kelly Starks

    You know the X-37B is a real example of why I roll my eyes and lose my patience when NewSpace fans talk about how rapidly NewSpace companies are in developing cutting edge technologies. While SpaceX, and Blue Origin, and a long list of others spend a decade struggling to redo half century old designs with no real improvements, heres Boeings little quite project to do a dramatically more advanced mini shuttle. Much more advanced technology.. Fully automated. Spending a year in orbit doing various high energy maneuvers in orbit. No muss, no fuss. Just works.

  • joe

    This looks like a recoverable satellite, autonomous operation and auto recovery with long cycles in the sky.

  • Kelly Starks

    That’s not a bad idea. It would allow rapid upgrades, not require the heavy upfront fuel loads for a decade of service, equipment designed for decades of operation without servicing, etc, but I’m not sure the DOD is interested in that versus just parking a bird up there for a decade or two.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *