- The vehicle features many elements that mark a first use in space, including:
- Avionics designed to automate all de-orbit and landing functions.
- Flight controls and brakes using all electro-mechanical actuation; no hydraulics on board.
- Built using a lighter composite structure, rather than traditional aluminum.
- New generation of high-temperature wing leading-edge tiles and toughened uni-piece fibrous refractory oxidation-resistant ceramic (TUFROC) tiles.
- Advanced conformal reusable insulation (CRI) blankets.
- Toughened uni-piece fibrous insulation (TUFI) impregnated silica tiles.
The X-37B has a lifting body-style and landing profile that is similar to the Space Shuttle, but the vehicle is one-fourth the size. The X-37B design combines the best of aircraft and spacecraft into an affordable system that is easy to operate and maintain.
The on-orbit duration of the X-37B will vary based on flight requirements but has the ability to perform flights lasting up to 270 days.