Perhaps it's a new weapon? Or maybe they have been up there looking to “see dem aliens”? Nevertheless, it seems that the U.S. military may know the answers. But, let’s back up for a second and focus on what we do know.
So, first and foremost the mysterious spacecraft has been orbiting our planet for just a little over 720 days. Even more so, we do know what it might look like. Dubbed the X-37B space plane, it is an uncrewed, solar-powered military drone. In fact, it was launched as part of the OTV-4 mission back in September of 2017 with the help of the SpaceX 9 rocket.
So, what could it be?
According to an official statement released by the Air Force, the space plane has been described as the following: “The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, or OTV, is an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the U.S. Air Force.”
Even more so the objective of the spacecraft in question seems to center around creating new reusable spacecraft technology that will go on to help lay the foundation for future in- space experiments for the United States.
In fact, the Air Force claims that the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is “the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft.” However, this does not end here with their statement. Most of the mission objectives for this state-of-the-art spacecraft are a closely kept secret which has left some to go on to speculate the “real purpose” of the orbiting spacecraft.
Is it a space bomber?
Yes, that was one of the first theories surrounding the spacecraft. Discussed in more detail in Popular Mechanics, some have gone on to say that it might be a Pentagon-funded hypersonic vehicle able to deliver bombs anywhere needed.
Another option is that the X-37B could just be a good old fashioned spy plane. Or, it could be used to conduct a series of “space experiments”. We guess only time will tell.
So, for now, we will believe that the United States Air Force is testing “advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics, high-temperature structures and seals, conformal reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems, advanced propulsion systems, advanced materials and autonomous orbital flight, reentry and landing”.
What theories do you believe surrounding the X-37B?