Boeing has published a short footage on the global network where we can see a reusable mini-shuttle located at a research and outer space facility. The most interesting element of the presentation, however, is the solar panel assembly system. Photovoltaic devices are located in the central hold. While in orbit, the cargo bay doors open and the panel system unfolds.
From the video, we can conclude that solar panels occupy most of the vehicle's hold. The rear part of the X-37B is the drive and the fuel tank, while the front part may house experiments or it is a space for transporting e.g. microsatellites. It is thanks to the solar panels that the vehicle can stay in space for over 2 years and carry out planned activities.
Boeing revealed the capabilities of the X-37B days after a successful test of a similar vehicle that the Chinese government had built. Experts believe that the Middle Kingdom intends to use it to conduct experiments in space for the development of its military and space technologies. India is also building a similar vehicle, but currently the United States is in the lead in this matter.
The Pentagon recently revealed that the X-37B, which has been in orbit since May, has been a small satellite called FalconSat-8. It was designed and built by cadets from the US Air Force Academy. In addition, NASA wants to test special seeds under cosmic rays. They are designed to help astronauts colonize the Moon and the Red Planet.
But it is not everything. The Pentagon has placed a special system of energy transmission to the Earth's surface and to military drones performing reconnaissance flights in the mini-shuttle. It is a Naval Research Laboratory project. The system converts solar energy into radio frequency microwave energy and then transmits the energy to the object.
The mini-shuttle will soon be able to have a special module attached to the rear part, in which additional loads can be transported into orbit. It is quite likely that in future missions, the military will test many more futuristic technologies in secret from the prying eyes of Russia and China.
The Pentagon also plans to send the successor to the X-37B into orbit. SpaceX has won a tender in which it is to send a mysterious vehicle into space with a powerful rocket Falcon Heavy. For the purpose of this mission, not only the rocket's cargo cover will be modified, but also the launch site. Experts believe that we may be dealing with a large vehicle here. Recently, NASA announced that it intends to conduct orbit experiments to prepare a manned flight to the moon. The new vehicle was to enable the implementation of experiments on a much larger scale.