CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The military’s small, top-secret version of the space shuttle rocketed into orbit Tuesday for a repeat mystery mission, two years after making the first flight of its kind.
The Air Force launched the unmanned spacecraft Tuesday hidden on top of an Atlas V rocket. As if on cue, clouds quickly swallowed up the rocket as it disappeared out over the ocean.
It is the second flight for this original X-37B spaceplane. The craft circled the planet for seven months in 2010. A second X-37B spacecraft spent more than a year in orbit.
These high-tech mystery machines – 29 feet long – are about one-quarter the size of NASA’s old space shuttles and can land automatically on a runway. The two previous touchdowns occurred in Southern California; this one might end on NASA’s three-mile-long runway once reserved for the space agency’s shuttles.
The military isn’t saying much if anything about this new secret mission known as OTV-3, or Orbital Test Vehicle, flight No. 3. In fact, launch commentary ended 17 minutes into the flight and a news blackout followed.
But one scientific observer, Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, speculates the spaceplane is carrying sensors designed for spying and likely is serving as a testbed for future satellites. He dismisses rumors of “exotic ideas” for the X-37B as weaponry or shadowing a Chinese satellite.
While acknowledging he does not know what the spaceplane is carrying, McDowell said on-board sensors could be capable of imaging or intercepting transmissions of electronic emissions from terrorist training sites in Afghanistan or other hot spots. “All the sorts of things that spy satellites generally do,” he said.
"They called Goodluck Jonathan, who gave you YouWIN and SURE-P, and PRESSID Scholarships clueless. So what do we call APC that gives you wheelbarrow? They said GEJ was tribalistic yet his NSA, CDS, IGP, CNS, CGP and minister of defense were from the North. So what do we say of President Muhammadu Buhari whose DG DSS is from his own hometown and whose Minister of Defense, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, NSA, IGP, CGP, CGI, CGP are all from his Northern Region? You see, no matter how far falsehood has travelled, it must eventually be overtaken by truth!"
-Reno Omokri(aide to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan)
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