This Secret X-37B Plane Just Landed After 780 Days In Orbit

The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B reusable space
plane just set a new record for itself, spending 780 days in orbit on its fifth and longest
mission. But while the orbiter’s existence and the
durations of its missions are known, there’s not a lot of information available to the
public about what exactly it’s doing while it’s up there. So based on what we do know, what else can
we figure out? If you haven’t heard of the X-37B, I’ll
get you up to speed. The craft is an uncrewed robotic orbiter that
sort of looks like a miniaturized space shuttle. It’s just under nine meters long and nearly
three meters tall, with a wingspan of 4.6 meters, so it’s roughly the size of a school bus,
with a cargo bay about the size of a pickup truck’s. The project originally started in 1999 under
the purview of NASA, but in 2004 it was taken over by the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency, better known as DARPA. From then on, the X-37 was classified, though
we do know that the project is run by the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office. It launches out of Cape Canaveral in Florida,
with the latest mission riding SpaceX’s Falcon 9 into orbit for the first time, and
the last two missions landed right next door to where they launched. It’s believed there are two X-37Bs, and
they were built by Boeing’s Phantom Works Division. Spooky. The Air Force’s official fact sheet on the
X-37B’s purpose doesn’t clear much up. It reads, and I quote, “The primary objectives
of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space
and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth.” Basically, it just says it’s a reusable
craft that carries things into space and brings them back. And that’s where the facts start to dry
up and speculation fills in the gaps. One theory imagines that since it has the
ability to change its orbit, the X-37B might be used to actually sneak up on and grab other
nation’s satellites. But while altering its orbit does make it
more difficult to track, even dedicated amateur astronomers can still keep tabs on it, and
experts think the craft is too small and not maneuverable enough to snatch satellites out
of orbit. Experts think it’s more likely a testbed
for technologies that will be a part of top-secret missions of the future, things like spy satellites. Though it can orbit at altitudes as high as
805 km, it’s been going around the earth at a distance around just 320 km, lower than
the ISS. That close orbit would enable a spy satellite
to take higher resolution pictures, but would also require more fuel to keep aloft and add
to the craft’s weight. To make lighter and cheaper reconnaissance
satellites cruise at that altitude, they would need a new type of propulsion system. As it happens, one of the few unclassified
payloads we know the X-37B has brought into orbit was an experimental Hall effect thruster. The only other payloads we know about was a NASA materials science experiment that accompanied the Hall thruster on the X-37B’s 4th mission,
and a highly efficient heat pipe that went up on this latest flight. You know, things that are very… uninteresting. While it’s tempting to let our imaginations
run rampant, it seems likely that the X-37B itself isn’t a space weapon or a reconnaissance
platform or some other cloak-and-dagger craft. It’s probably what the Air Force says it is,
a cheap reusable testbed that allows for quick turnaround times for experiments that can
only be conducted in space. Now, what those experiments are and how they’ll
be used, that’s the real question, and unfortunately, I don’t have the security clearance to give
you an answer. So you’ll probably never hitch a ride on
the X-37B, but for a cool 250 thousand dollars you may be able to buy a ticket on Virgin
Galactic. To learn more check out this video here. How do you think those experiments will be
used? Let us know in the comments below if you liked
this episode. Make sure to subscribe to Seeker and thanks
for watching.

83 Replies to “This Secret X-37B Plane Just Landed After 780 Days In Orbit”

  1. Why would it take 2years in space to test something when it can land and go back up. Makes no sense. It probably is a spy plane. It’s military. It’s bad stuff. It’s secret.

  2. You do realize this YouTube Channel predominantly has a U.S. viewing audience, right? Why are you using the metric system?

  3. It’s probably just testing future technology for space travel, or scientific experiments that need near zero G without using the vomit comet or the ISS.

  4. Shouldn't a Science and Technology channnel be in 4k? (…And not contain 2-3 white icons burning into the corners of my oled)

  5. wow. I took pictures of the moon a few nights ago and captured something passing in front of the lower part of the crescent the looked the same shape as this craft. can't say for sure that is really what is in the photo but it is likely. I've captured satellites and he ISS in images many times while photographing stars at night so it's not so hard to believe that this is just another man made object in orbit that I captured with enough detail to clearly see a silhouette that's the same shape as this rather than it being just coincidental.

  6. Visit provided link below. Click on "Find on Page" or CTRL+F & type: "nasa" & read surrounding paragraph


  7. This channel is funded by the military, use yr critical thinking skills, do you really think if these guys knew the truth theyed tell you ? … This is an untrustworthy channel.

  8. In other words: is a robotic small space shuttle without all the buzz of its manned bigger brothers but also without all the dangers in case of catastrophic failure. And also it is way (way) cheaper (as sending humans up there comes at a cost). The most pragmatic use of space is (and surely enough, will be) with unmanned crafts; the better we get at automation and robotics the less sense it makes to risk human lives (and health) by exposing them to a plethora of cosmic dangers; and with a fraction of the cost.

  9. Assuming that is a cheap and efficient way to run certain experiments, we can assume other nations are doing it too. When do we get to see the competition?

  10. Spy sattellite haha I think we should cut of navy budgget…. I dont see navy going more insane in the name of sanity

  11. 1. Trump warned about space pirates.
    2. Would be great for cleaning space trash
    3. Lots of stuff needs to be tested in microgravity and in near earth orbit radiation.

  12. Imagine if the United States spent all that much borrowed money on its population and not on developing technology to spy on other countries. With a debt of more than the United States total GDP, any other country in the world would focus on something other than military equipment development. I want a Christmas gift for the United States to have democracy that can govern the country.

  13. NASA and the USAF team up test a new space vehicle to better humankind….nope…they just achieved the longest orbit for a nuclear capable weapon. But remember we need to fear China and Russia and Iran and any country that does not bow to the American Empire.

  14. Why 780 days in Lower Orbit Space mission …..That's Interesting. Quite a long time to conduct Multiple Experiments.

  15. It's used to shuttle the aliens to and from orbit. They need it because it's gotten just too darned easy for people to spot ufo's nowadays.

  16. Yeah Darpa ultraviolet dark projects with a cheap reusable autonomous payload delivery vehicle.
    Nothing to worry about here…move along.

  17. The militarization of space has begun: Thanks a lump 'Murica! (And to think for decades the US was pointing the finger at Russia/USSR; another case of projection!)

  18. Hi Seekers, thanks for watching! Want to find out how Virgin Galactic plans to send you to space? Check out this video:

  19. Was it trying to find the black knight? Was it working out what the u.n spends our billions on? They fly, drive and use ships boats, yet we should all become Amish… Or is it a easier way to get to the ISS?

  20. Of course conspiracy theories abound.. because.. although overly generalized and innocuous answers were given about the purpose, experiments and such of this space plane.. it's totally under government control..

  21. Hey seeker… you like to be newsy and informative but yet you want to delay this by over a month. Keep that shit up and people will find other sources for information. That's a promise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *