Secret Space Plane Just Launched On A MysteryMission

 

 

 

 ” The launch starts the third mission in three years for the robotic X-37 fleet, assembled in Boeing’s now-shuttered Building 31 in Huntington Beach, California, for an estimated $1 billion apiece. But for all the time spent in orbit by the two school bus-size spacecraft — 693 days in all — it’s no more clear today precisely what the Air Force has been up to with the X-37s.

Officially, the solar- and battery-powered X-37s are strictly experimental craft, meant to “demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform” while also “operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth,” according to the Air Force.

But the Air Force has consistently declined to state exactly what those experiments might be. And in theory the X-37s could also carry spy sensors or gear for hacking enemy satellites. That and the lack of specific information has elicited protests from the Chinese government, which has vowed to build a space plane of its own.

The opacity also makes a mockery of the State Department’s international campaign for greater space transparency.”