Feeds

Clandestine US 'space warplane' extends orbital mission

Black budget robot carries on its unknown task

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The second of the US Air Force's mysteriously-missioned X-37B spaceplanes is going to continue its clandestine operations in orbit past its intended nine months.

Detail on the X-37B's wings. Credit: USAF

X-37B. Credit: USAF

The spaceship, dubbed a 'secret space warplane' by the Iranians, has been in orbit since March 5, although the mission and its cargo are on a need-to-know basis.

"On-orbit experimentation is continuing," Air Force Major Tracy Bunko, a spokesperson for the secretary of the Air Force, told Spaceflight Now. "Though we cannot predict when that will be complete, we are learning new things about the vehicle every day, which makes the mission a very dynamic process."

The X-37B is a black-budget-funded, unmanned mini-shuttle whose exact purposes are unknown.

US officials in charge of the winged, reusable craft say its a good way of getting new techs into space quickly because you don't need to build a satellite to take them. They add that because the planes are reusable, they can test new gadgets and if they don't work, you're not writing off a billion- or million-dollar satellite.

However, despite their attempts to make the little ships seem benign, as soon as you slap the word 'secret' onto a space project, you inevitably get tons of speculation on the real purpose of it, some of which is fuelled by the Reg here.

The second of the X-37B missions was only designed to last 270 days, but engineers have now decided to extend that.

"This will provide us with additional experimentation opportunities and allow us to extract the maximum value out of the mission," Bunko said. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.