Here's an interesting tidbit from a recent Defense News article on the mysterious X-37B space plane; the craft has seven, yes, seven dents in it from collisions with space debris!
"For the first flight, we're extremely pleased with the outcome of the entire mission of the X-37B," said Richard McKinney, the deputy under secretary of the Air Force for space programs.
The only physical damage seen so far has been seven areas where space debris collided with the aircraft. It also blew out a tire upon landing.We've been warned for a long time that space debris is becoming a huge, potentially deadly problem. I've heard Air Force leaders repeatedly say that a collision with even a tiny object in space can have disastrous consequences.
So seven hits over the course of the nearly eight months that the X-37B was in space. Are collisions in space that common? If so, has the X-37B already taken a serious step toward mitigating that problem by using extra tough coatings? Or is this just an indicator of how bad things are up there?
Here's the piece.