Boeing said the company will be moving its "top secret" X-37B orbital test vehicle program to a former space shuttle building at the Kennedy Space Center.
While the press refers to the X-37B project as a "secret" government project, the project isn't actually "top secret" by U.S. government standards. However, the X-37B still remains shrouded in mystery due to the fact that very little public updates have been given about the project. Boeing said it will be moving the aircraft to the Orbiter Processing Facility-1 or OPF-1 for short.
"We have seen the impact and visionary thinking Boeing and the Air Force bring to the Space cost and we are pleased to work with NASA, Space Florida, Enterprise Florida and other key state and community partners to further diversify our space industry," says CEO and president of Florida's Space Coast Economic Development Commission Lynda Weatherman.
The X-37B is currently orbiting the planet in an ongoing test flight and once the orbiter re-enters the atmosphere, it will be recovered and housed at the OPF-1. This is the orbiter's third test flight to date. The aircraft's first test flight, dubbed OTV-1, started last April 22, 2010 and ended Dec. 2 of the same year. The second mission dubbed OTV-2 started March 5, 2011 and ended on June 16, 2012, over a year later. The latest mission started Dec.11 last year and is expected to last for a few months. However, the exact details of the X-37B's re-entry have not been disclosed for now.
Boeing's secretive orbital test vehicle has been designed to test automated de-orbit and landing systems that should allow future aircraft to land almost automatically with little to no human input. In addition to this, the X 37B also serves as a test bed for electromechanical actuation systems. The aircraft uses this type of actuation system for its brakes and flight controls in place of more traditional hydraulic systems.
Aside from serving as the X-37B's new home, the Kennedy Space Center may also serve as ground zero for the SpaceX program if negotiations between NASA and SpaceX for the use of the facility's Launch Pad 39-A push through.