back to article Top-secret US spaceplane sets off on another classified mission

The US Air Force has relaunched the first of its super-secret X-37B spaceplanes, the OTV-1, sending it on another mysterious mission in space. OTV-1's first mission was back in 2010. X-37B launches from Cape Canaveral The experimental unmanned spaceship headed off from Cape Canaveral yesterday, just a few months after the …

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  1. AdamSweetman
    Happy

    Its a fair bet its off to pick up whatever North Korea launched yesterday

    big IF North Korea actually got anything into LEO....

    Testing in-orbit intercept and capture seems like a prime opportunity. Bring whatever they launched back down, wrap it up in Christmas paper and fed-ex it back with a 'We think you might have lost this...' card. Beautiful display of the vast, vast capability gap that the US has over everyone else on earth in space.

    1. Justin Bennett
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Its a fair bet its off to pick up whatever North Korea launched yesterday

      And when they open it up back in the USA, BOOM! goes the nuke warhead, carefully delivered to an important location with complete deniability :-|

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Its a fair bet its off to pick up whatever North Korea launched yesterday

        It's all building up nicely for 21st-Dec.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Alien

          As if!

          We are being set up for an alien takeover.

          Second secret trip to orbit, huh? They are probably transporting the abject surrender declarations of a sizeable chunk of the US inner circle to a rendezvous point with the alien mothership, beautifully signed and tastefully enhanced with a folded US flag. Didn't Krugman say that this would be happening soon and that we should be looking forward to it? Meanwhile the ITU is busy taking over the Internet. Coincidence? I think not.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Happy

            Re: As if!

            "Second secret trip to orbit, huh? They are probably transporting the abject surrender declarations of a sizeable chunk of the US inner circle to a rendezvous point with the alien mothership, beautifully signed and tastefully enhanced with a folded US flag. Didn't Krugman say that this would be happening soon and that we should be looking forward to it? Meanwhile the ITU is busy taking over the Internet. Coincidence? I think not."

            Now that's a proper paranoid conspiracy theory.

            Genius.

          2. FormerKowloonTonger
            Trollface

            Re: As if!

            .......heh.....heh.....heh.......[gasping through glee....]

            Actually, and deliciously, you're responding to dis-information.

            We Yanks, pausing for breath in our wanking, have had another glorious orgasm. Now for a bit o'rest.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: As if!

              We Yanks, pausing for breath in our wanking, have had another glorious orgasm. Now for a bit o'rest.

              Always thought the majority of Yanks were wankers. You've just confirmed it!

              1. Wombling_Free
                Headmaster

                Re: As if!

                And here was me thinking Wanks were yankers.

      2. Tim Brummer

        Re: Its a fair bet its off to pick up whatever North Korea launched yesterday

        I hope not, I live next to Vandenberg AFB where the X-37 lands. I sure wish they would bring it back during daytime so I could watch it come it, the past 2 have landed just past midnight.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Its a fair bet its off to pick up whatever North Korea launched yesterday

          So watch it in infra-red! I thought EVERY American had night scopes, infra-vision equipment, laser cutters, home machinist's workshops, their own backyard heavy industrial facility in the basement.

          That s what most of them on the internet and media seem to have.

    2. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Its a fair bet...

      It's a fair bet that the US can't prepare and launch this baby with less than 24 hours' notice, more likely it's been weeks preparing a launch that was known months ago. It's extremely unlikely this is related to the Nork launch. On the other hand, while it's up there I'm sure the US can redirect it to have a look

    3. That Steve Guy

      Re: Its a fair bet its off to pick up whatever North Korea launched yesterday

      Wait I remember this part of the movie!

      "Screww you Team Ahmericah, you haven't heard the last of Kim Jong ill.."

      So the X-37B snatches him, the End!

    4. Graham Marsden
      Pirate

      Re: Its a fair bet its off to pick up whatever North Korea launched yesterday

      And then land in a secret base hidden in an extinct volcano...?

    5. DougS Silver badge

      Unlikely given that the NK launch was delayed

      Unless the US launch was originally supposed to take place last week or whenever it was the NK launch had been previously scheduled, it would have been too late for that.

      However, it is possible that the NK decided to launch today before the US can get the X-37B into place to do...something. Not sure exactly what (that we couldn't already do with our existing satellites and missile shoot down capability) but I'm sure NK's generals have a capacity for paranoia that far exceeds my capacity for imagining paranoia.

    6. Mike Flex

      Re: Its a fair bet its off to pick up whatever North Korea launched yesterday

      "Beautiful display of the vast, vast capability gap that the US has over everyone else on earth in space."

      That would be why the US has to send its astronauts to Russia.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Off you go...

    I look forward to reading all the comments from the people who were frothing at the mouth on the North Korean rocket thread, being similarly outraged by this similarly secretive threat to world peace and militarisation of space.

    Maybe I shouldnae hold my breath though!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Off you go...

      "I look forward to reading all the comments from the people who were frothing at the mouth on the North Korean rocket thread, being similarly outraged by this similarly secretive threat to world peace and militarisation of space."

      Well, I agree. Both projects are warmongering by people more interested in pissing matches than anything as unprofitable as peace. Screw them both, I say.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sending objects into space to look back at Earth is a complete waste of time and money. We should be focusing on the moon then Mars and beyond instead.

    1. petur
      WTF?

      Rather the reverse.... What are you looking for out there? Another habitable place that is unreachable or an inhabitable that is closer so we can screw up there too?

      How about looking down at earth and try to preserve what's left here? FYI, we don't have the resources to lift several billion people off this planet and move them to a place that is by default probably worse than what we have right now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >How about looking down at earth and try to preserve what's left here?

        It's not an either/or, and its reasonable to assert that satellites are an important tool for helping us preserve our planet... okay, maybe not this satellite, but still. Whilst we are on one planet, we (as a species) remain vulnerable to a bloody large rock, a series of bloody large thermonuclear explosions or the rise of some bloody large apes... maybe.

      2. Rune Moberg

        lifting people

        petur, we do not have to lift "several billion people".

        Only the hairdressers, account executives and telephone sanitizers will have to go.

    2. ian 22
      WTF?

      Can't walk and talk simultaneously?

      The Mission to Planet Earth will provide us with useful information. Weather patterns for example. Likewise, missions to other planets.

      The lack of interest (or imagination) revealed in some posts here surprises me. Are these from ignorant or non-technical people who have accidentally stumbled upon this site?

    3. Sordid Details
      Coat

      Earth is fucked. I'd like to think it' will be women and children first into the inter-galactic lifeboats, but we all know it's going to be the nerds.

      Mine's the pressure suit...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    space budget

    mysterious mission in space...so spying, or checking how easy it is to bugger up other countries space furniture.

    Has all the space money used in apollo gone to the negative and destructive military now? Is the average us bozo more impressed by big explosions and death than men walking on the moon.?

    1. Spider
      Unhappy

      Re: space budget

      yes.

    2. 404 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: space budget

      No.

      NASA does Muslim Outreach now per President Obama now. Space is to be left to private enterprises.

      :|

      1. Nelbert Noggins

        Re: space budget

        What NASA achieves on it's budget should go down in history as a testament to the power of geekdom.

        I can think of few other government departments who regularly punch above their budget allocation. Where taking what's available on a limited budget and putting it together in inventive ways to achieve a very technical/geek solution that works better than the budget should allow.

        I suspect DARPA was like this in the early days, these days I've no idea.

        The beauty of Geekdom is with enough freedom we can usual deliver higher than expectation on the limited budget. We won't guarantee it'll work, but our knowledge and testing says it will, and it'll be more reliable than the alternatives.

        If you want nominations for a Government department that achieves well above it's budget allocation I put forward NASA.

        1. Chris007
          Headmaster

          Re: space budget @Nelbert Noggins

          We're taking what's available

          There it's fixed for you.

  5. SkippyBing Silver badge

    What if it's just a dummy they're launching into space, letting circle the Earth a bit and then bringing it back. I mean it might be worth it just to tie up everyone else's 'intelligence' agencies trying to figure out what they're doing and in the meantime they can go and do something else unnoticed.

    1. ian 22

      +1

      If the yanks do retrieve the nork satellite, they may find a Playmobil "Glorious Young Leader" figure aboard.

      Yes, I wish to go POSH- port out starboard home.

  6. Dan Paul
    Devil

    All they'll find is Kim Jong IL's ashes.................

    Hey, if you were the son of an all powerful deity/dictator, wouldn't you do it too?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You Only Live Twice...

    Anyone else thinking this?

    Anyway I'm off back to my hollowed out volcano to shout at minions in boiler suits who will die horribly at some later date!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: You Only Live Twice...

      I think the best lines in the movie are when Blofeld decides the price to the Chinese for starting WWIII has just doubled.

      "That's outrageous"

      "Extortion is my business."

      Still puts a smile on my face.

  8. Andrew Baines Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Food for the secret moon colony

    They've been up there since the early '70s so must have nearly run out of food by now.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Food for the secret moon colony

      Stop it, you're giving me a nostalgia attack.

  9. 1Rafayal
    Joke

    I am surprised Apple haven't tried to patent this yet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They probably realized that using the description "reusable space vehicle capable of autonomous reentry and landing just like the US Air Force have developed" was not turned into a novel item capable of being patented by their addition of the words "... on a mobile device"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Boring! Tedious! Heard it before! Unoriginal! Irrelevant! Curious definition of joke!

      1. W.O.Frobozz

        What does this have to do with Yahoo?

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. The Jase
    Mushroom

    bastards!

    Bastards! Could they not have launched on 27 Nov when I was there!

  12. Dogsauce
    Mushroom

    Odd. No words of condemnation from the international community after this military launch.

    Something wrong here?

    1. Crofty616
      Mushroom

      We dont want to be invaded....

    2. nuked
      Facepalm

      You're kidding. Right?

  13. NomNomNom

    I suspect this is a long range hypocrisy test under the guise of a x37b launch

  14. Nelbert Noggins

    Top secret, yet it's reported on El-Reg :D

    Reminds me of the Stealth Fighter/Bomber denials when Blackbird was taken out of service.

    We don't need spy planes anymore, honest, gov.

    Oh, those funky shaped black things... nah, don't worry about them, they won't replace our spy plane we don't need spy planes, that's why we're retiring blackbird.

  15. Beachrider

    If NASA launches, it is publicly posted...

    NASA launches have historically been publicly posted. NASA doesn't always advise on the contents, whether they are commercial or military. There is such-a-thing as DoD secret launches, where NASA is not the official coordinator. In November, SpaceX and Orbital announced as getting involved. I don't know of DoD will use NASA with these two or not.

  16. EvanPyle
    Pint

    I was out star gazing last night, nothing much else to do while taking long exposure shots, and noticed a satellite rise from the north sky heading south and then change direction and set in the east. I have no idea what it was and didn't see it come around again.

    Beer because it's what I was drinking

    1. Rich Woods

      "I was out star gazing last night, nothing much else to do while taking long exposure shots, and noticed a satellite rise from the north sky heading south and then change direction and set in the east. I have no idea what it was and didn't see it come around again"

      Orbital speed is about 16,000mph. Changing the direction of a satellite's orbit by that degree is somewhat beyond the capabilities of even a top secret US defence project. Your sighting must have been of a good old fashioned flying saucer rather than an advanced spaceplane.

  17. solaries
    Big Brother

    Military X-37 Shuttle

    As have been saying the military always gets the good stuff. NASA should have gotten a piece of this they are in need off a replacement for the retired Space Shuttle this unfair.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Stop

      Re: Military X-37 Shuttle

      "As have been saying the military always gets the good stuff. NASA should have gotten a piece of this they are in need off a replacement for the retired Space Shuttle this unfair."

      It's a lot smaller than you think. The NASA astronaut corp would have to be recruited from the LPA.

      It's go no life support, which is part of why it can do over 6 months on orbit without a problem.

  18. Shane 4
    Facepalm

    Oh come on now,

    We all know it was the last ditch effort to try and blow up Nibiru before 21st Dec next week! sigh.....

  19. kleinman
    Go

    LOHAN

    I am sure the X37 is going to release a paper plane, just to demoralize the Onion staff. Ever since LOHAN was announced they have been gearing up to this.

  20. LordHighFixer
    Coat

    Surprised no one has mentioned

    the Project Scoop aka Andromeda Strain angle.

    Mine's the one that looks like a bio-hazard suit.

  21. Ron Russman

    Planes...In...Space!

    What does the US Air Force have the most of in terms of vehicles? (Hint--most have two wings)

    Did you say Warplanes?

    If I were King of the Air Force, I would want an autonomous vehicle capable of selectively disabling enemy satelites. Or, better yet, one that could highjack their operations serapticiously.

    First I would have several missions to collect the data and then try it out on another mission then keep quiet about it until someone disturbs the peace. USAF is a military organization but The US is interested in Peace as far as I know.

    I just wish we didn't have to be the peace keepers.

  22. bag o' spanners
    Coat

    It's a resupply mission for Thunderbird 5. Dansette stylus upgrade, new carpet sweeper, and a large bottle of Pledge.

    Mine's the one with a furry humbug in the pocket.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ... or maybe just the utterly mundane testing activity of NASA's "plan B" department, vying for position in the budget satellite transportation market in 20 years time when China holds all the cards. Why must there always be a nefarious plot behind everything of any note that ever happens? The *vast* majority of things of note that happen don't have a plot behind them, or if they do, then it's a few grubby little people trying to get more coin for themselves, not alien overlords, or 21/12 or illuminati. That's the stuff that mentally ill or mischievous people make up on the WWW and lazy or mentally ill people buy into wholesale without a shread of evidence or research(unless you call evidence or research googling said plot and getting more crazy results confirming it).

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