back to article Secret US spaceplane spotted in orbit by hobbyists

Amateur astronomers believe they have located the X-37B US military unmanned spaceplane, which was launched into orbit on a classified mission a month ago. Detail on the X-37B's wings. Credit: USAF We now know where, but not why or what. According to the authoritative skygazers' site Heavens-Above, the X-37B is in an orbit …

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Sir

Is it big enough to house the 747 laser unit?

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Nope.

Alas, definitely not. The ABL lasing unit has to fly on a modified cargo plane for a reason. That would be cool, though.

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Could be useful for cuddling up....

A useful role I can imagine, for such a manouverable craft, would be to mosey up to other satellites and then 'zap' them if required.

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Go

Duhhhhh

And here we are being told it suddenly disappeared. Like I said .... does the word "stealth" have meaning for you? Apparently not for a whole gaggle of folk. Especially for those who actually believe they have journalistic skills.

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FAIL

That's what the little flame icon is for

It didn't disappear. It just may be able to change direction quickly so the people watching it might lose track of it, but that hasn't happened yet. Stealth vehicles have a small radar signature. They're not invisible. Somebody probably just saw it with a telescope.

And no, you didn't say.

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Go

It's the Bin Laden track-o-matic space laser

This time there can be no escape!

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Black Helicopters

Black Shuttle icon required

Does this mean we can look forward to a shiny new icon on The Reg, the Black Shuttle to replace the Black Helicopter one?

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Shiny?

Shouldn't that be a nice matt black new icon, if it's a stealth one?

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Oompa Loompa

Is it me, or it this thing just the right size for Oompa Loompas?

I for one etc etc

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Coat

ReL Oompa Loompa

Actually I must admit I misread the title as 'Secret US spaceplane spotted in orbit by hobbits'!

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That shroud

Is it really made from Lego?

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Space-war desk

Is El Reg's space-war desk a single desk, or a cluster of mini-desks which would survive an attack from across the office if just one was taken out?

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Silver badge

come in achmed im a dinnerjacket...

so the us are militarising space...

what abour non proliferation agreements?

lest we forget amidst all the concern about N. Korea and Iran, there is only one rogue state that had ever deployed a nucular (lolz) weapon.... twice

I say bollocks to our space nuke totin rednecked overlords

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Alert

True, but....

Not all of us over on the other side of the pond are stupid, or okay with the fact that we're the only ones to actually USED nuclear weapons, and then tell others they can't use them. One's current leaders have to understand the mistakes of their predecessors. However, one also needs to understand that the acts of a current individuals predecessors doesn't necessarily reflect the current views of an administration.

The best part is, amateurs can find it! So, it shouldn't be that hard. Unless it has one of those fancy cloaking devices like the Puddle Jumpers in Stargate Atlantis! XD

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Yawn, old news.

The US and the USSR alike militarized space before I was even born (and you as well, judging from your command of the keyboard).

Were you not here to read the news story about how somebody was offering rides on decommissioned once-clandestine Soviet space-gunboats (Almaz) that had been equipped with machine guns? Did you never read about that time in 1985 in which an F-15 Eagle nailed a derelict satellite with a missile designed for the purpose (ASM-135 ASAT), or the rather more recent case wherein a US warship did much the same with an SM-3?

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Thumb Up

good point, and well made sir

Though to quote another great merkin - bill maher (actually on the subject of a french election), 'we couldnt get 78% turn out in an election if the vote was between tits and bigger tits and the government was giving away free samples'

(BTW bill you owe me a new kbd and screen for that one :-D)

so all bets are off regarding the NEXT administration, and sadly you just know those people are sittin on their porch, watching russia, biding their time....

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Black Helicopters

Beware!

The first steps toward the eventual invasion of the UK by the US. The country will be renamed States of the United Kingdom or 'SUK'.

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Coat

But surely

But surely it would be called the United States of the United Kingdom?

Or U-SUK for short.

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Coat

Actually...

... It would be the United States of Britain. USB. In fact as it would be the third attempt it would be USB3.

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Happy

Actually...

It's called the EU.

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Black Helicopters

Fast response delivery

So just imagine any one of a fleet of these can get to just about anywhere on Earth within, say, 90 minutes. So how long a runway would it need to land?. The options for foreign operations to receive hi-tec supplies with very short notice could be key. Or indeed delivery of other less savoury payloads to anywhere is also possible (although much less palatable). This can either be a prototype of itself or a larger unit, as part of a constellation.

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Black Helicopters

90 minutes, plus ...?

Yeah 90 minutes, plus the 3 month delivery for the launch rocket, and booking the time at the launch pad (they don't seem to like launches happening too often, so you have to book a slot!)

To be honest, you'd get it there quicker by boat...

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Boffin

@ravenviz

"So just imagine any one of a fleet of these can get to just about anywhere on Earth within, say, 90 minutes. "

Strictly it would be 45 mins as the farthest away site is 1/2 way around the world, which would be a sub-orbital flight. However the easiest orbit to reach is the one slanted to the equator at the same angle as the latitude of the launch site. Other require the Earth to precess under its flight path (multiple orbits. It's a problem in geometry) or high fuel usage burns. Plane change is *very* expensive.

"So how long a runway would it need to land?. The options for foreign operations to receive hi-tec supplies with very short notice could be key. "

Check the spec. Then check weather it needs on the ground hardware to help it line up.

"Or indeed delivery of other less savoury payloads to anywhere is also possible (although much less palatable). This can either be a prototype of itself or a larger unit, as part of a constellation."

It does have a payload bay designed to have standardised packages in it. Before you get *too* carried away look at the *huge* 2 stage booster it's sitting on.

It *looks* like a reusable spaceplane (or rather what the USAF think it should look like) but it *really* isn't. It's basically an update of the X20 Dyansoar concept, without a human pilot on board.

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Boffin

@john Smith: I couldn't disagree more...

UPS would be the best bet... anyway if you had enough to secured a whole runway you'd have enough kit with you in the first place! I think that plane drops would be cheaper and could return home. This craft cannot return and would be wasted!

I think this is just a reusable satellite chassis, with some pretty sophisticated spy gear on it, once its run out of fuel (or helium for the cameras) down it comes for a refit and relaunch.

I dont ever foresee this performing the single orbit missions that have been hypothesised, there is no point in coming down empty, just to go back up empty, to collect 'something' later. especially since that something would be seen and would not be able to manouver to avoid any hostiles.

I do however see this loitering for 9 months (and avoiding any missles thrown at it..) taking pictures, maybe optical maybe synethetic apature radar, and then returning for a service before refittign and relaunching.

I did notice that it's current orbit passes over Afganistan, Iran and the middle east and pretty much misses most of Russia...

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Black Helicopters

Project Thor?

Anyone know what its theoretical payload capacity is? Kind of handy to be able to drop a guided tungsten telegraph pole on a bunker from orbit anywhere, anytime and without anyone knowing where said orbital object came from.

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Coat

World Cup

It clearly passes over South Africa, I'll put a fiver on it having a big camera in it so they can get the World Cup in the Black Ops Office without paying subscription charges.

Steven R

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This is worrying...

..with the complacent insecurity we've seen in the USA.

So, find a programmer or two on the project, offer them a cruise to somewhere exotic, with a briefcase full of money and a beautiful girl in exchange for the passwords. The guys are probably virgins, and gagging at the prospect.

Security? Botnet, anyone? Next thing you know these little ships will arrive for 'breakfast' at the top of the Freedom Tower.

What we sow, so shall we reap.

What goes up, must come down. Under whose command is anyone's guess.

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Alien

270 DAYS in orbit?!?!

"Ironman One...do you copy...Ironman One....do NOT blow the bolts, use the hatch release...Ironman One - do you copy?"

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