Thursday, May 21, 2015

✈ Top secret ‘Space Drone’ X-37B to Blast Off On Covert Mission ✈

The TOP secret US Air Force space-plane called X-37B will blast off from Cape Canaveral in Florida today on a classified military mission.

The pilotless military space vehicle, a quarter the size of a NASA shuttle, is officially called a test vehicle.

Amazingly this is the X-37B's fourth mission.

US Air Force Drone Space-Plane called X-37B
US Air Force Drone Space-Plane called X-37B
The space drone is designed to orbit the earth and its longest flight has lasted nearly two years.

The craft is unmanned and operated robotically.

Previous speculation over X-37B's purpose is that it is used by America to spy on China.

While the Pentagon refuses to discuss its missions, Spaceflight magazine has in the past said snooping on the Asian powerhouse was its most likely purpose.

Editor Dr David Baker said: "Space-to-space surveillance is a whole new ball game made possible by a finessed group of sensors and sensor suites, which we think the X-37B may be using to maintain a close watch on China's nascent space station."

US Air Force X-37B Drone
US Air Force X-37B Drone
Steven Aftergood, a secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists agreed the space drone's most likely use was eavesdropping on fellow nations.

He said: "It's conceivable that a spy plane would introduce new versatility into overhead reconnaissance.

"The usual suspects would be targets. For instance, Iran or North Korea, or the various battle zones in the Middle East and elsewhere."

The US Air Force will not confirm how long the latest flight is for but have said its focus is a 'thruster experiment involving electric propulsion'.

The Boeing-manufactured plane, which is nine metres long, is boosted into space by a launch vehicle and then lands just like the Space Shuttle by gliding. All of its three previous trips have landed in California.

Giving brief details on the upcoming mission, Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said: "With the demonstrated success of the first three missions, we're able to shift our focus from initial checkouts of the vehicle to testing of experimental payloads."

Also tagging along will be the Planetary Society with a solar-sail demo, which aims to use stars to propel the plane.

It wants to show rockets can be powered by the sun's energy using the sails which will span 344 square feet.

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