In a special Air Force roundtable today, Mr. Gary Payton, Air Force Deputy Under Secretary for Space Programs, hosted a media teleconference on the first launch of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.
Lt. Col. Erik Bowman, 45th Launch Support Squadron commander, Patrick AFB, Fla., was also on line to provide information on details regarding launch support. The OTV is the U.S.’s newest and most advanced unmanned re-entry spacecraft April 22 at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla.
The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle will provide a flexible space test platform to conduct various experiments and allow satellite sensors, subsystems, components and associated technology to be efficiently transported to and from the space environment where it will need to function. Read the X-37B fact sheet.
The X-37B will also prove new technology and components before they are committed to operational satellites.
“The X-37B is an important step in the effort to make space access more routine, affordable, and responsive,” Mr. Gary Payton, Air Force Under Secretary for Space Programs, said. “The technologies and concepts of employment that are proven by the Orbital Test Vehicle will be folded into development programs that will provide capabilities for our warfighters in the future.”
The program directly supports the Department of Defense’s technology risk reduction efforts for new satellite systems. It will provide an “on-orbit laboratory” test environment to prove new technology and components before those technologies are committed to operational satellite programs.
The X-37 program, while originally a NASA initiative, is now led by Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office officials, which expedite development and fielding of select Defense Department combat support and weapons systems. The OTV is the first vehicle since NASA’s shuttle orbiter that has the ability to return experiments to Earth for further inspection and analysis.
- For more information about the new unmanned spacecraft set to launch, visit Air Force.mil.