For two years, the US Air Force’s X37B space plane landed in California. The Space plane was first used by NASA but was later turned over to the US Air Force for a secret mission. What was the space plane doing in space for not days or months but a full 675 days in space?
The U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane landed today at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Space Plane is unmanned, reusable and stayed an unprecedented 675 days in space. However not much is known about the record setting mission.
There are two X-037B planes and it was the third flight to the orbit and also the longest. The X-37B is alternatively known as Orbital Test Vehicle touched down at the Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:24 a.m. local Pacific Time (12:24 p.m. EDT).
The first flight of the Orbital Test Vehicle happened in April 2010 and it lasted 225 days. The second mission lasted for 469 days.
Col. Keith Balts, commander of the 30th Space Wing, headquartered at Vandenberg, said in a statement “I’m extremely proud of our team for coming together to execute this third safe and successful landing.”
However the purpose of the space plane is intriguing. The hush-hush nature of the X-37B missions has spawned a number of conspiracy theories. Here are some theories
Uncle Sam has innumerable satellites in orbit which can spy with impunity any part of the globe. The X-37B could be carrying prototype reconnaissance gear, for snooping on the Middle East and other flashpoints around the globe. But this can be done with satellites also but a plane can move into any region much faster than a satellite. However to achieve this will require huge quantity of fuel.
Some conspiracy theorists have put forth this hypothesis that the space plane can be used for space bombing. Again changing the orbits of something like X-37B Bomber means huge amount of fuel which it cannot carry logically speaking.
Destroying Hostile satellites
This is another crazy idea of using the X-37B to take out hostile satellites. It will be very easy to trace any such designs today since amateurs can easily track the X-37B and the US government will not like any nefarious operation being traced back to it by some unknown amateur.
Spying on the Chinese space station
It was suggested that the orbit of the vehicle is close enough to watch what’s going on with China’s Tiangong-1 space station. Nothing can be more hilarious than this idea! The two spacecrafts are in orbit and cross the Equator about 90 degrees apart and crisscross each other at incredible speeds like thousands of meters per second. It will be impossible to make any observations