According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the reusable X-37B — in orbit at the moment and expected to return to Earth in the near future — has no compelling use.
“It’s hard to think of what could make that mission compelling,” [UCS scientist Laura] Grego told SPACE.com. “It doesn’t protect you from antiaircraft fire, and the element of surprise doesn’t really work in your favor if you’re launching on Atlas V [rocket].”
In reading this article, it is fascinating how completely unimaginative the scientists from the Union of Concerned Scientists seem. Nor do I find this surprising. For the last few decades this organization has opposed almost every new aerospace engineering project that might actually have made possible the human exploration of space. It’s as if these scientists feared new ideas and grand achievement. Sadly, the UCS had great influence with policy makers in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, and thus helped limit the American government’s space program capabilities during that time period.
Fortunately, the UCS’s influence has waned in recent years. Though the American government space program might be dying, it is because of budget limits and a lack of leadership by the Obama administration, not the unimaginative thinking of the UCS. Furthermore, their lack of imagination — which once seemed so culturally dominant — seems to no longer influence the rest of society. The happy result is the creative innovation coming from many new private aerospace companies.
The UCS meanwhile reminds me of an old curmudgeon, who won’t keep quiet but everyone still ignores.