October 16, 2021

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The US Space Force’s secretive X-37B space plane: 10 surprising facts

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(Image credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist)

10) A modified variant has been proposed as an ‘astronaut ambulance’

10) It could be modified variant as an ‘astronaut ambulance’

The current version of the X-37 may not be the last to reach space. In 2011, Boeing representatives announced that they were considering developing a larger variant called the X-37C, which could carry up to six astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). That concept vehicle is unlikely to be built anytime soon, given that Boeing is already under contract with NASA to fly astronauts to and from the orbiting lab with the company’s CST-100 Starliner capsule.

Also, an engineering team led by former NASA astronaut Stephen Robinson has proposed using a modified version of the X-37B as an ISS emergency-evacuation vehicle. Again, this is just a concept at the moment, and there’s no indication that Boeing is seriously investigating this “astronaut ambulance” variant.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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