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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.