A news item in the UK journal New Scientist made me aware of the USAF X-37 project.
This reusable, orbiting, unmanned spacecraft looks awfully like a cutdown Shuttle, and the current X-37B has just returned to Earth after a 469 day mission where it is suspected of observing the Chinese Tiangong spacelab. The X-37C is expected to be big enough to carry up to six astronauts, though if the design is so autonomous it is likely that they will be passengers, not pilots.
So is the US, and Boeing preserving it's Shuttle legacy in the X-37? Can we expect to see more re-usable spacecraft that fly back down instead of just ballistic re-entrys?