Feeds

America's X-37B top-secret spaceplane returns to Earth

Hardly anybody knows what it did last summer

The next step in data security

Super-secret spaceplane the X-37B landed back at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Saturday after 469 days of mysterious missions in space.

The second unmanned reusable Orbital Test Vehicle, which carried out unknown experiments in orbit, launched from Cape Canaveral in March last year.

"With the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, the X-37B OTV program brings a singular capability to space technology development," said Lt Col Tom McIntyre, the X-37B's programme manager, in a canned statement.

"The return capability allows the Air Force to test new technologies without the same risk commitment faced by other programs. We're proud of the entire team's successful efforts to bring this mission to an outstanding conclusion."

As is traditional when discussing the X-37Bs, vagueness was key in the US Air Force's comments, since despite its supposedly innocuous job of testing space gear in space, no one ever knows what the wee crafts are carrying or doing.

The US government's secretive attitude has led to all sorts of speculation about the purpose (or purposes) of the mini-spaceplanes, including the theory that they are some sort of space warplane.

The US Air Force is planning another X-37B launch sometime this autumn, sending the first craft back into space aboard an Atlas V rocket. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.