The Mysterious X-37B Space Plane: What is it Doing Up There?

Monday, May 24, 2010
X-37B (photo: United States Air Force)

From its manufacture to its mission, the X-37B space plane is shrouded in mystery. Built by Boeing’s Phantom Works group for the U.S. Air Force, the unmanned, robotic spacecraft is currently orbiting the earth on a classified mission as it conducts its maiden voyage. Analysts and amateur astronomers have speculated what the X-37B is doing while circling a portion of the globe that includes such countries as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea.

Equipped with a cargo hold that’s about the size of a pickup truck bed, the space plane could be carrying small satellites. Some observers have speculated that the X-37B is lugging spy equipment for the National Reconnaissance Office.
All the Air Force will say about the robot spacecraft is it will be used to support earth-based military forces. It can supposedly stay aloft for up to nine months before returning home.
The X-37B was first developed by NASA in the late 1990s, before being transferred to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and eventually the Air Force.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Surveillance Suspected as Spacecraft’s Main Role (by William Broad, New York Times)
X-37B Model Kit (Fantastic Planet)


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