X-37 Secret Space Plane.

English: The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle in the...

English: The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle in the encapsulation cell at the Astrotech facility April 13, 2010, in Titusville, Florida. Air Force officials are scheduled to launch the X-37B April 21, 2010, at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. The X-37B is the U.S.’s newest and most advanced unmanned re-entry spacecraft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle makes ...

English: The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle makes its first space flight aboard an Atlas V rocket April 22, 2010, from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”
― Thomas PynchonGravity’s Rainbow

I wanted to write a little bit and research something that has been of interest to me since I first heard about it roughly eighteen months ago. The first time I heard it mentioned on a newscast they kept calling it “A Secret Space Plane”.  If you throw those three words together you will have me  hook, line and sinker. There is something ominous sounding to me anytime the word secret is combined with Government. After reading countless things about The US Govt and NASA and Space and CIA and NSA etc.. etc.. etc.. I feel qualified enough to say that sometimes the US Government will attempt to hide something or some program based on the idea if you make it as plain sight as possible that people will not see it.  Basically the X-37 is a reusable space vehicle much in the same way the Shuttle was as evidenced by the fact it has been launched 3 times all ready and returned twice to Earth. It also is boosted into space via a Rocket and can land much the way a plane can at your local airport.  (BTW I am not saying the X-37 could land at your local airport.. it has to have a very long run way in which to decelerate.)

Per Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-37B)

“The X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle is a reusable robotic spaceplane. It is a 120%-scale derivative of the Boeing X-40,[6] measuring over 29 feet (8.8 m) in length, and features two angled tail fins.[3][26] The X-37 launches atop an Atlas V version 501 rocket with a Centaur second stage.[19][3] The X-37 is designed to operate in a speed range of up to Mach 25 on its reentry.[27][28]

Basically it is much the same as a huge drone (supposedly)

Again per Wikipedia

“Among the technologies demonstrated in the X-37 include an improved thermal protection system, enhanced avionics, an autonomous guidance system and an advanced airframe.[8] The spaceplane’s thermal protection system is built upon previous generations of atmospheric reentry spacecraft,[10] incorporating silica ceramic tiles.[29] The X-37’s avionics suite was used by Boeing to develop its CST-100 manned spacecraft.[30]

  You will most likely hear the following words a lot if you follow this story.

                           “The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane is set to launch on it’s nth voyage. The details of the mission have been kept a secret.”

Has this single handily started a new space race or star wars to some degree? Do other Nations have something to worry about?

It has the ability to stay up in orbit for a long long time.

“The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft. Based on NASA’s X-37 design, the unmanned OTV is designed for vertical launch to low Earth orbit altitudes where it can perform long duration space technology experimentation and testing. Upon command from the ground, the OTV autonomously re-enters the atmosphere, descends and lands horizontally on a runway. The X-37B is the first vehicle since NASA’s Shuttle Orbiter with the ability to return experiments to Earth for further inspection and analysis, but with an on-orbit time of 270 days, the X-37B can stay in space for much longer.” —– US Air Force X-37 Fact Sheet——-

http://www.af.mil/information/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=16639

From the Miltary:

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA407255&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

x37-historical

X-37 Transferred to Darpa

http://www.space.com/337-nasa-transfers-37-project-darpa.html

Dailymail article questioning what is it doing???

New York Times digs into what I believe the true missions is with the X-37:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2112146/Mystery-U-S-X-37B-space-plane-orbit-year.html

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/06/space-plane-record/

It recently went up again on another top secret mission length unknown:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/11/secret-shuttle-launch-x-37b-spaceplane_n_2279274.html

Excellent document that describes the X-37 in some degree:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/44484569/X-37B-USAF-Spaceplane

Various semi informative videos:

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/10/secret-space-plane/

http://www.space.com/11033-photos-x37b-space-plane-2nd-flight.html

Diagrams that show some real basic ideas of functionality and scale etc. You should click on the image to have it show up a bit bigger in another window.

x-37b-cargo-transfer x-37b-derivatives-2 x-37b-size-comparison mid-aft-apas-x-37b

http://www.space.com/11240-video-secret-x37b-space-plane-skywatchers.html

I am just curious what it could possible be doing up there.? I am curious in people’s opinions. I watched the Nova documentary on Astrospies and was fairly amazed that there was a secret parallel space part of the Government that were doing things in the late 50’s perhaps but easily the 60’s. It was separate and different than NASA. I do not recommend a lot in terms of movies but I do love documentaries and do recommend watching the Nova one concerning astrospies.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/military/astrospies.html

-will be back to edit in more information.

EDIT:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::03.03.2013:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Article describing in less than very good detail what the X-37 is and what it can do. Not sure I buy into what the author is selling.

http://defense.aol.com/2012/12/11/air-force-launches-robot-space-plane-x-37b-but-whats-it-for/

English: The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle in the...

English: The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle in the encapsulation cell at the Astrotech facility April 2010, in Titusville, Florida. Air Force officials are scheduled to launch the X-37B April 21, 2010, at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. The X-37B is the U.S.’s newest and most advanced unmanned re-entry spacecraft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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18 thoughts on “X-37 Secret Space Plane.

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