After more than one year on orbit, the Air Force is preparing to bring back to Earth OTV-2, its second X-37B orbital test vehicle, announced service officials May 30. Members of the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., are prepping for the return of the experimental reusable spaceplane sometime in early to mid June, depending on weather and technical considerations, according to a Vandenberg release. “The men and women of Team Vandenberg are ready to execute safe landing operations anytime and at a moment’s notice,” said Col. Nina Armagno, 30th SW commander. The Air Force launched OTV-2 into space in March 2011 from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. Service officials have not disclosed what the X-37 has been doing on orbit or what payload it carried into space in its internal bay, but they’ve said they’ve been pleased with the vehicle’s experiments. OTV-1, the first X-37 vehicle, returned to Earth in December 2010 after nearly eight months on orbit.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.