Mysterious robotic plane hits 500 days in space; what's it doing?

by
in space on (#3JK)
story imagePhys.org reports :
A robotic space plane is speeding in low Earth orbit at this very moment. Some say it's a weapon; others, a data-gathering mission. There's one fact most agree on as the plane hits 500 days in space: Its real purpose is a mystery.

The Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Space Vehicle, constructed in California, is one-fourth the size of the Endeavour Space Shuttle.

Whatever its real purpose, the X-37B has very real capabilities. It travels low in orbit, staying around 110 to 500 miles above the Earth at a cruising speed of about 17,500 mph. It's equipped with special heat-shield tiles for re-entry, which are billed by Boeing as tougher than Endeavour's.

But the government's treatment of the project poses questions. Though it's advertised as a secret project, Boeing releases pictures and more than two pages of details on the X-37B. In contrast, the secret, super-fast Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was not declassified until decades after it had been used in the Vietnam War.
More pictures and speculation can be found at Extremetech .

Could it be (Score: 3, Interesting)

by spacebar@pipedot.org on 2014-05-01 20:41 (#1AH)

perhaps that it wasn't meant to be in space for 500 days? How embarrassing... Quick- pretend it's a secret mission!
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