- Mission: Described as a re-usable testbed for new sensors and other space technologies.
- Length: 9m (29ft); Wingspan: 4.5m (14ft); Height: 3m (9.5ft); Mass: 5t (11,000lb)
- Origins: Started as a Nasa project in 1999 before being handed to the military in 2006.
- Flight history: First vehicle launched in April, 2010, and landed eight months later.
- Cost: The budget line for the X-37B programme continues to be classified information.
America's classified X-37B spaceplane is probably spying on China, according to a report in Spaceflight magazine. So begins 2012 another butthurt year for America!
Also for other worldending 2012 issues check out www.2012-endoftheworld.com/ done by a fellow blogger
"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," said Spaceflight editor Dr David Baker.
"The parallels with X-37B are clear," Dr Baker says in Spaceflight, the long established magazine of the British Interplanetary Society.
"With a period differential of about 19 seconds, the two vehicles will migrate toward or against each other, converging or diverging, roughly every 170 orbits."
The unpiloted vehicle was launched into orbit by the US Air Force in March last year and has stay there ever since with no sign of re-entry.
The Pentagon are keeping shtum about its mission but amateur space trackers have noted how its path around the globe is nearly identical to unmaned China's spacelab, Tiangong-1 and specualtion as to americas intent to lurkmoar is spreading like wildfire!
Built by Boeing, the Air Force's robotic craft is about 9m long and has a payload bay volume similar to that of a small partyvan. But what sekret James Bond stuff goes in the payload bay, the USAF will not discuss. The current mission was launched on an Atlas rocket and put into a low orbit, a little over 300km up, with an inclination of 42.79 degrees with respect to the equator - an unusual profile for a US military mission which would normally go into an orbit that circles the poles.
“A Challenger Appears”
Brian Weeden is a technical adviser to the Secure World Foundation and a former orbital analyst with the USAF. He published his own assessment last year of the X-37B's capabilities and role as a platform to trial technologies before they are incorporated into a full-up spy satellite. Mr Weeden thinks the Middle East is a more likely target for any new sensors that the X-37B might be carrying.
"Is it spying on Tiangong-1? I really don't think so. I think the fact that their orbits intersect every now and again - that's just a co-incidence. If the US really wanted to observe Tiangong, it has enough assets to do that without using X-37B."
stealth mode needed....
|The middle east currently pwning America's spy satellite.|