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Space & Astronomy

Secretive X-37B space plane caught on camera

July 6, 2019 | Comment icon 13 comments



The image is blurry, but it is possible to make out the spacecraft. Image Credit: Ralf Vandebergh
For the first time, someone has managed to snap an image of the enigmatic mini-shuttle in Earth's orbit.
The solar-powered space plane, which looks a lot like a miniature version of NASA's space shuttles, had been originally designed to repair satellites before NASA discontinued the project and passed it over to the US Department of Defense back in 2004.

These days, little is known about the specific nature and purpose of the X-37B other than that it is capable of spending years in orbit on a single mission without having to return to Earth.

Its latest foray in to the final frontier began almost two years ago on September 7th 2017.
Now though, for the first time ever, the X-37B has actually been photographed in orbit - offering a rare glimpse of the mysterious space plane and potentially helping to explain what it is doing up there.

The image was captured by Dutch skywatcher and satellite tracker Ralf Vandebergh who had spent months attempting to snap a picture of it.

"It is really a small object, even at only 300 kilometers [186 miles] altitude, so don't expect the detail level of ground-based images of the real space shuttle," he said. "We can recognize a bit of the nose, payload bay and tail of this mini-shuttle, with even a sign of some smaller detail."



Source: Space.com | Comments (13)



Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Jon the frog 2 years ago
Don'T know how easy it is tracked by the military, this thing have probably the fuel to change orbit a couple of times.
Comment icon #5 Posted by toast 2 years ago
There is a lot of interesting stuff on the HP of Ralf Vandebergh , the guy who spotted the X37B.
Comment icon #6 Posted by and then 2 years ago
Great shot! It was impressive to isolate and capture something that small. I wish I had HIS telescope - and a little of his skill
Comment icon #7 Posted by tmcom 2 years ago
So a conspiracy that has been proven to be true. I guess that conspiracy and nut don't go hand in hand anymore.
Comment icon #8 Posted by SpaceBumZaphod 2 years ago
Great catch.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 2 years ago
The X-37B is nota conspiracy. I can ever show you a picture of it.
Comment icon #10 Posted by toast 2 years ago
With Batman logo (nose).
Comment icon #11 Posted by Merc14 2 years ago
This was never a conspiracy, what made you think that? We know when it launches and lands, have film of both, know who built it and when and how many there are. The only things classified (and that is not a conspiracy either) are the payloads and missions. Also, conspiracy and nut aren't necessarily linked, there are real secret conspiracies and cabals (see thee Russia collusion myth) but there are many nutty conspiracy theories like man hoaxing landing on the Moon.
Comment icon #12 Posted by tmcom 2 years ago
I thought that when the project was abandoned, the conspiracy surfaced that it was still in use or being developed further? A conspiracy is the gov, clamming up, and some evidence surfacing. True, some nutty conspiracys, and plenty of legit ones.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 2 years ago
These are the key words here, "I thought". Well you thought wrong. What you are doing here is mistaking your own ignorance of the subject with a conspiracy. The project was never abandoned, NASA OPENLY handed over to the USAF in 2004. The USAF first launched it (and broadcast the launch LIVE) in 2010. This is it's FIFTH flight. The X-37b is not, and never was, secret. What it is doing on these missions is. Secrecy does not equal conspiracy. The fact that 10 years of operation of the X-39b have passed by, despite each mission being announced in advance and each launch shown live, is hardly the ... [More]


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