The Boeing X-37, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), is a reusable robotic spacecraft. It is boosted into space by a launch vehicle, then re-enters Earth’s atmosphere and lands as a spaceplane. The X-37 began as a NASA project in 1999. The X-37 program is currently managed by the United States Space Force.
The 2 operational X-37Bs have completed 6 orbital missions as of November 2022, which are detailed in the following table.
Most of the activities of the X-37B project are secret.
The official U.S. Air Force statement is that the project is “an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, uncrewed space test platform for the U.S. Air Force”. The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technology and operating experiments which can be returned to Earth. The Air Force states that this includes testing avionics, flight systems, guidance and navigation, thermal protection, insulation, propulsion, and re-entry systems.
As with many secret projects, there has been speculation regarding the hidden “REAL” purpose of the X-37…