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The X-37B is an unmanned space plane that the Air Force has had in orbit for the last 22 months. It's about to land on Tuesday, and has a lot of people wondering just what in the world its being used for, as the Air Force is being most vague on the details.
And since they aren't saying exactly what the use and purpose for this mystery space plane is, of course the internet and news sites are piling up dozens of conspiracy theory-like ideas of what they are up to with the X-37B. The rumor mill goes anywhere from reconnaissance missions (spying), to future military deployment (dropping troops from crazy high altitude), to it being used as a potential space bomber, maybe anti-satellite weapon?? Seems most speculate it has something to do with war.
Although, the Air Force has come out to say this much:
"[The X-37B] is designed to demonstrate reusable spacecraft technologies for America's future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth."
"Technologies being tested in the program include advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics, high temperature structures and seals, conformal reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems, and autonomous orbital flight, re-entry and landing."
Any thoughts on what they are up to with this mystery space plane? The duration of the orbit alone (22 months) makes me think that there might be much more interesting motives involved, beyond just war. Possibly something to do with future mining of the moon and/or asteroids, maybe even nearby planets? Who knows. What's your guess?
This video came out a bit ago on the launch.