In an interesting development Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been named as the company to launch the next X-37B space plane into orbit . The X-37B is the reusable space plane originally conceived by NASA , control was transferred to DARPA in 2004 , it is now under the control of the US Air Force . The plane can carry a payload which has recently included multiple ‘cubesats’ .
The X-37B and it’s missions are shrouded in secrecy , somewhat opaquely it is described officially as an ‘orbital test vehicle’ , the obvious question is what is it testing ?
No one really knows .
Although considering the number of military satellites in orbit and the fact that the USAF is in charge suggests that it is being developed as a satellite killer . If you can win the battle for space then it follows that you can render obsolete any earthbound military technology that is reliant on satellite technology . Modern military organisations are becoming increasingly reliant on satellites for communications , early warning systems & guidance systems etc. Not to mention other more ‘exotic’ weaponry .
What gives the X37-B the edge over traditional satellites is the fact that it is maneuverable in space , that is it can change orbit where as traditional satellites are generally in a fixed orbit . Not only that but it seems that the X-37B can ‘disappear’ , which suggests it carries stealth technology or is equipped with next generation propulsion systems , or both . The X37-B has also been tracked ‘buzzing’ other satellites including the International Space Station , a ‘test run’ perhaps ?
- SpaceX ‘Kicking Major Butt’ To Launch X-37B For First Time, Not ULA’s Atlas V
- U.S. Air Force taps SpaceX to launch next X-37B spaceplane mission
- X-37B: The Air Force’s Mysterious Space Plane
- Air Force Launches Robot Space Plane, X-37B — But What’s It For?
- AMERICAN X-37B “DISAPPEARS” IN SPACE ORBIT
- US militarys top secret X-37B shuttle disappears for two weeks, changes orbit
- US spook-sat buzzed the International Space Station
Also related :
- Tiny Solar Sail ‘Cubesat’ Launching with X-37B Space Plane on Wednesday
- Shoebox-sized satellites made by civs win trip on NASA’s newest rocket
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