It’s no secret that China’s main focus of its space program revolves around the moon. On November 1st they did just that. China has successfully launch a capsule into space, swing around the moon and made it back safely with a touchdown speed of 7mph.
The capsule, Chang’e 5-Ti began its journey on October 23rd. Four days later it swung by the moon at a altitude around 8,000 miles, while taking pictures and sending it back home. In the capsule, Chang’e exposed several plants and bacteria not only for themselves, but also for German and Spanish research teams.
One major thing to point out is this is the first round trip Lunar voyage since the Soviet Union did so in 1976! Congrats China.
The Boeing X-37b is an American reusable unmanned spacecraft operated by the US Air force. USAF says the spacecraft is intended to demonstrate reusable space technologies. As of 2013, it holds the world record for being the smallest robotic, unmanned space-plane. X-37b is returning to Earth after a 22 month mission orbiting the Earth. A lot of speculation comes the secrecy of the space plane mission. The theories out there are countless! Some say it’s for spy satellites to catch images of political hot spots, space weaponry that’s being tested. What ever the reason may be the Air Force maintains that’s its solely a test vehicle. Their primary mission statement is “To test spacecraft technologies for Americas’s future in Space and operating experiments which can be returned to and examined on Earth.” Some things to notice about the space craft that it only have a payload size of about a pick up truck, we know Boeing built the planes, but because it is a classified project we do not know the cost. The project itself is not really a secret. We know when the plane take off and when it lands, but what happens in between and what is it carrying in the payload if any is what all the speculation is about.
My thoughts: I think many people misunderstand the X-37B concept. I have seen many X-planes at the Air Force Museum. They are generally weird looking and impractical for any “real world” operational mission. To argue the X-37 is not a good B-37 or A-37 misses the point that this space X-plane is for technology demonstration. In the next 20 years we may very well see a reusable 2-stage or Single-Stage orbiter that traces its techno roots to the X-37B.
What about you guys? Is the X-37b is everything the government say it is or does it have greater mission?