Secret Space plane, Mystery Mission
The Daily Beast |April 7, 2014 | By Kyle Mizokami
The Air Force’s secret space plane has been up in orbit for nearly 500 days—a space endurance record. But nearly a year and a half into the mission, the Pentagon still won’t say what the X-37B is doing up there, or when it might come back.
The U.S. Air Force boosted the robotic X-37B atop the nose of an Atlas-5 rocket in December 2012. Since then it’s orbited the Earth thousands of times, overflying such interesting places as North Korea and Iran.
The U.S. Air Force will not comment on what kind of missions the X-37B does in space. The service, which doesn’t mind talking about the space drone as a technological achievement, clams up when discussing actual missions.
Rumors abound. One of the most popular is the X-37B can sneak up and eavesdrop on other satellites. The idea does have appeal, but skeptics point out the U.S. already has other smaller, harder to track satellites to do just that.