NASA is in the final stages of sending a remotely controlled robotic space shuttle into orbit around the earth, according to the latest reports.
The X-37 is much smaller than the space shuttles that take astronauts out of the Earth’s atmosphere and its first unmanned flight into the final frontier will be monitored by experts on the ground in Florida.
The X-37 has been created not to travel into space on its own, but to become a kind of life craft for astronauts. It will accompany future shuttle missions and be attached to the International Space Station in order to provide its residents with a speedy escape route back home in an emergency.
Sources suggest that the total space available inside the craft could be a little as seven feet by four feet, but given that the passengers should only be on board for a short time this should not be a particular issue.
Observers believe the X-37 will be making its first ever voyage into the atmosphere on the back of an Atlas V rocket some time soon. This speculation has been brought about by the news that the X-37 has been transported down to Cape Canaveral, which suggests that a launch is imminent.
The X-37 project is shrouded in the typical kind of secrecy that any quasi-military US organisation applies to its latest developments, but it will be difficult to disguise the rocket as it launches into the clear blue skies over Florida.