The U.S. Air Force’s super secret, super cool, super stealth spy satellite has been spotted by not so secret amateur satellite trackers. Again. That’s right. It’s the fourth trip up for the X-37B and the fourth time it’s been found. Good work, everyone.
The satellite was launched on May 20th to continue the super secret research of the three trips before it.
Actually, that’s not even a secret.
For this trip, NASA publicly announced the point of the mission, something that hasn’t been done before. According to the space agency, the space plane will be used for materials science research. It’s a follow-up to the 4,000 samples that spent time on the International Space Station between 2001 and 2013.
On this trip, 100 materials will spend 200 days on the space plane to study how materials hold up in the intense and harsh environment that is difficult to simulate. The data is then used to design new spacecraft and components. Though the space plane is owned by the Air Force, NASA has been allowed permission to utilize some of the space.
In addition to the materials study, the plane will be used to test a new thruster propulsion system that might allow for cheaper, longer satellite flights in the future.
All of this transparency can mean only one thing: The government is using the satellite for super nefarious purposes under the guise of space research.
Luckily, we know exactly where the satellite is at all times thanks to a group of people who track over 300 satellites. Since this group has spotted the X-37B–of which there are actually two in existence–three times already, it was really a matter of sending out estimated orbits and waiting for the space plane.
Better luck next time, Air Force.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense