Space News reports that NASAs X-37 Orbital Space Plan demonstrator is
now being reconsidered as the basis for an orbital bomber. The basic function of X-37 is to provide a crew emergency return vehicle for Space Station Alpha
, but it could also play a part in the shuttle replacement, particularly if the crew and cargo roles are separated.
The US Air Force is looking at a strategy hinging "on developing a fleet of unpiloted space planes called Space Operations Vehicles that would be capable of staying in orbit for months at a time, according to Air Force officials. The space vehicles would be loaded with smaller re-entry vehicles, called Common Aerospace Vehicles, or CAVs. These re-entry vehicles would carry as many as 10 500-pound conventional bombs.
The CAVs would protect the bombs from the intense heat of re-entering the atmosphere, an Air Force official explained. The bombs would be identical to those carried by Air Force fighter planes, hence the word “common,” this official explained. Targets could be struck quickly nearly anywhere around the globe without having to position aircraft to forward positions."
NASA is now going to test the X-37 on a 270 day loiter mission in space, which would give the US Air Force what they need for the SOV.
***Imported from old blog***