Is it a bird? Is it a plane? What the heck is that thing? We know it’s up there, we just don’t know what it’s up there for. That is the best way to describe the military’s secretive X-37B Space Plane.
The aircraft is pretty much a smaller, unmanned, drone version of the space shuttle. Yes that is right; it is 100% remotely piloted and in photos it looks exactly like the ‘mini me’ version of the much bigger space shuttles that were permanently mothballed several years ago. It takes drone technology to a whole new level to say the least.
What we do know is that two prototype aircraft have been built so far. They are exactly like the space shuttle in that they launch from the ground like a rocket and then land like an airplane. They are shot into orbit by means of an Atlas V booster rocket. Once in orbit, they are then maneuvered and powered by both jet fuel and solar power. It is the solar power component of the experimental aircraft that gives it the ability to stay in space for extended periods of time. One of the prototype aircraft returned in October 2014 from a mission that lasted over 500 days in space.
The aircraft itself is not very big. It’s only 10 feet high, 30 feet long and has a wingspan of about 15 feet. The cargo bay is not that much bigger than that of which you would find on a full size pickup truck. To put its size in perspective to its manned predecessor, two of the X-37B aircraft could actually fit in the cargo hold of the old space shuttle. The highly classified and mysterious aircraft first flew in April of 2010.
There is a lot of speculation about what the aircraft was designed for, but nobody except those who work on it really know for sure. Some people like to think that it is a new space weapon system that the USA is testing, but that is highly unlikely given its small size and the fact that its payload bay is extremely small. It could be used as a weapon to knock out satellites of an opposing country, but then again it has been tested in an orbit that is lower than most satellites operate in. Perhaps the best assumption is that it is used as a platform for testing components of future reconnaissance satellites. The truth is that we will never know unless the military opens up more about its use; who knows, it may even just be up there for show to psyche out a future adversary into thinking twice about opposing us because we have a secret ‘one up’ on them.
It will be interesting to see just how forthcoming the military is on the role of the X-37B space plane in the near future. Until then, we will just have to sit back and take our best guess at what this unmanned space drone is doing high in the skies above us.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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