US military’s top secret X-37B shuttle ‘disappears’ for two weeks, changes orbit.
By Peter Farquhar, Technology Editor | August 25, 2010
AMATEUR astronomers are enjoying a cat-and-mouse game with the US military in keeping track of its secret space plane, the X-37B.
The X-37B was launched in April amid much publicity, but scant detail about its true use.
Built by Boeing’s Phantom Works division, the X-37B program was originally headed by NASA.
It was later turned over to the Pentagon’s research and development arm and then to a secretive Air Force unit.
Only a very few in the US military know what it’s for, but observers on Earth believe they’re putting together the puzzle piece by piece.
Several sources claim quote arms control advocates who say it’s clearly the beginning of the “weaponisation of space”.
In May, avid skywatcher Ted Molczan studied the X-37B’s orbit from his home in Toronto and said its behaviour suggested it was testing sensors for a range of new spy satellites.
Since then, the X-37B been arguably the least-secret secret project on the planet, as fellow backyard astronomers joined in the scrutiny, aided by how-to video guides and apps such as the Simple Satellite Tracker.
That is, they did until July 29, when the shuttle disappeared, causing all kinds of consternation and conspiracy theories about its fate.