U.S. Air Force Launches Secret Flying Twinkie
BY JAMES OBERG // APRIL 2010
The liftoff of an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral this month will mark one of the most secretive U.S. Air Force spaceflights in decades. Guessing the nature of the secret has become a sport among aficionados.
“This is one odd bird,” military space historian Dwayne Day told IEEE Spectrum. “They’re spending an awful lot of money for a test program that seems to have no real end user.”
The 6000-kilogram, 8-meter X-37B OTV-1 is often called a flying Twinkie because of its stubby-winged shape. It was built in the Boeing Phantom Works high-security facility in Seal Beach, Calif. In the flight test, the craft is supposed to orbit Earth for several weeks, maneuver in orbit, and glide its way to a landing strip at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California.
from ieee spectrum