The Super Secret X37b unmanned space aircraft was launched into orbit 10 months ago. Its capabilities…classified. It mission…classified. Its return date…classified.
The orbital path of the X-37b is known, as it has been picked up by amateur skywatchers, and it appears as if every 170 orbits around the Earth it intersects very closely with the Chinese Space Station, Tiangong-1.
Spaceflight Magazine Editor, told the BBC:
“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,”
The X-37b was originally a civilian craft that was being developed by NASA, but with the potential military capabilities of the plane apparent it was taken over by the Army’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and made top secret.
Iran calls the X-37b a “Secret Space Warplane” and there are some in the US Intelligence community that agree.
There is speculation that the X-37b is doing work for the National Reconnaissance Office, the intelligence agency that builds and operates America’s spy satellites.
There are also analysts who believe that even thought he orbits of the X-37b are very similar to the Chinese Space Station, the coincidence could be a decoy.
Brian Weeden, of the Secure World Foundation and a former orbital analyst with the U.S. Air Force told the BBC:
“A typical spy satellite is in a polar orbit, which gives you access to the whole Earth,” Weeden told the BBC. The X-37B is in a much lower inclination which means it can only see a very narrow band of latitudes — and the only thing that’s of real interest in that band is the Middle East and Afghanistan.”
How do you feel about the concept of weaponizing space with systems like the X-37b?