X-37B Shuttle's Super Secret Mission to End SoonS

The U.S. military's secret space shuttle/spy plane hybrid that was spotted by amateur astronomers earlier this year is set to land around January. Its success has reanimated the dusty X-34 but we still know next to nothing about it.

It would appear from amateur observers on the ground that the secretive U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane – will be landing soon. This prediction is based off the fact that the craft is dropping in altitude and the more basic fact that it is nearing the limit of its orbital capabilities and has to return to terra firma. According to the U.S. Air Force, the X-37B can remain on orbit for around nine months or 270 days at maximum, this means that the craft should be landing sometime in the middle of January. - Universe Today

So the X-37B will probably remain a huge mystery to we civilians for the indefinite future. That's OK, because as Wired reported earlier this week when those X-34 got taken out of storage, these autonomous space-faring vehicles as a whole could be an indication of new approaches to space travel, both at NASA and in the private sector.

It could be the beginning o a new X era in space travel. The X-15, if you'll remember, was part of a program that eventually produced the space shuttle. [Universe Today via Slashdot]