Capability: It is boosted into space by a launch vehicle, then re-enters Earth’s atmosphere and lands as a spaceplane. The X-37 is operated by the United States Space Force for orbital spaceflight missions intended to demonstrate reusable space technologies.
Maiden Flight: 2010-04-22
Flight Life: Multiple years in orbit
Payload Capacity: 227
Second X-37B. First flight on March 5, 2011.
In 1999, NASA selected Boeing Integrated Defense Systems to design and develop an orbital vehicle, built by the California branch of Boeing’s Phantom Works. Over a four-year period, a total of US$192 million was spent on the project, with NASA contributing US$109 million, the U.S. Air Force US$16 million, and Boeing US$67 million. In late 2002, a new US$301 million contract was awarded to Boeing as part of NASA’s Space Launch Initiative framework.
The X-37 was transferred from NASA to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on 13 September 2004. Thereafter, the program became a classified project. DARPA promoted the X-37 as part of the independent space policy that the United States Department of Defense has pursued since the 1986 Challenger disaster.
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 is operated by the United States Space Force for orbital spaceflight missions intended to demonstrate reusable space technologies. It is a 120-percent-scaled derivative of the earlier Boeing X-40. The X-37 began as a NASA project in 1999, before being transferred to the United States Department of Defense in 2004. Until 2019, the program was managed by Air Force Space Command.
Boeing as a space agency has recently provided NASA with assistance on sending humans to the ISS from American with both their construction of the CST-100 Starliner crew capsule and their work on the SLS Avionics to return to the moon and beyond. Their ventures in GPS satellite systems and Tracking and Data Relay Satellites provide information about earth-orbiting craft to stations on the ground. They also enable research on the ISS and will be helping with the construction of the Lunar Gateway.