The National Aviation Association awarded the Boeing X-37B the 2019 Robert J. Collier Trophy Award.
WASHINGTON – The United States Air Force’s X-37B self-propelled aircraft won the 2019 Collier Cup, awarded annually by the National Aviation Association for America’s achievements in the aerospace and space sector, NAA announced the date August 13.
The X-37B is one of nine nominated candidates including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the aircraft carrier Stratolaunch. NAA said the X-37B won for “development and use of the world’s only reusable, self-propelled aircraft that logged more than 2,865 days in orbit in five missions, changing rights. access to space and act as the nation̵7;s worker in space experiment and technology ”.
Reusable jets are sent to low Earth orbit for long missions that can last up to two years. The Air Force operates two X-37B spacecraft built by Boeing.
The space plane is a derivative of the X-37A designed by NASA in the late 1990s to be deployed from a space shuttle. The program was later transferred to the Department of Defense and is currently managed by the Air Force’s Office of Rapid Capabilities.
Originally designed for 270-day missions, the X-37B set a record for endurance in each of its five completed flights. Its first mission was carried out in 2010. In 2019, the plane broke its own orbital endurance record of 718 days.
X-37B’s sixth mission took off on May 17, 2020, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Randall Walden, director and program manager of the Air Force’s Office of Rapid Ability, said the service plans to continue to support the X-37B program. “Right now we plan to keep it,” he said August 13 during the Mitchell Institute webinar. “There is a lot of interest in reusable space vehicles.”
“The Collier Trophy commemorates the X-37B’s record-setting mission,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said in a statement. “The X-37B advances in reusable space aircraft technology and operates experiments in space that are filmed for further testing on Earth.”