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Pentagon’s New Space ‘Shuttle Drone’ Has Been in Orbit Since 2012

21st Century Wire says…

The retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle fleet took place in 2011…

Critics accused the US government of sand-boxing the world’s most innovative and successful space program ever. It turns that Washington’s master plan has been to trade in its Space Shuttle for a replica drone. NASA is no longer in control of this shuttle program, instead the Pentagon is running the show.

That drone is called the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, and it landed this week in California after being in low Earth orbit since 2012.

It still remains highly classified – which has only fueled speculation as to the true purpose of this multi-billion dollar ‘space drone’ program. Mainstream space pundits believe that the new ‘Shuttle Drone’ is designed for reconnaissance and for deploying small satellites into any orbit.


US Air Force tech personnel at Vandenberg wearing radiation-proof and protective ‘Hazmat’ gear? (Photo: Reuter/HO)

Others believe that the Pentagon-controlled Shuttle Drone is being groomed for offensive military missions – anything for coordinating communications with other earth-bound stations or unmanned Predator drones, to deploying weapons against other space targets, or earthly ones.

The photo above depicts US personnel at Vandenberg Air Force base greeting the X-37B wearing radiation-proof and protective ‘Hazmat’ gear? Is there something highly radioactive on board the Shuttle Drone? Weapons, perhaps?

It seems the US is giving up altogether on leaving man in the equation for both space travel, and military flights. In September 2013, the US Air Force also revealed the future of its fleet – unmanned, full scale F16 ‘drone’ fighter jets.

As it turns out, the technology to move unmanned shuttle-drones has been around for some time. The Soviet Union’s ‘Buran Shuttle’ was the first space shuttle to complete an unmanned flight in 1988, including landing in fully “automatic mode”.

Here’s what happened in space this week…


X-37B Orbital Vehicle (Reuters / HO)

Pentagon’s mystery ‘space plane’ to touch down after record time in orbit


RT.com


The Boeing X-37B, a highly classified robotic spacecraft built for the US Air Force, is to make its third landing after spending more than 670 days in low-Earth orbit. The space plane’s purpose remains a mystery, though surveillance is a likely candidate.

X-37B is expected to land automatically at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a facility serving as a testing base for the DoD.

“Team Vandenberg stands ready to implement safe landing operations for the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, the third time for this unique mission,” said Col. Keith Baits, 30th Space Wing commander.

While the base officials say the exact date and timing of the landing would depend on weather conditions, the base issued a notice to aviators to stay away from the area between 3 am and 4 pm. Tuesday, local time (10 am to 11 pm GMT).

The spacecraft was launched on December 11, 2012 by an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It has since been flying in low-Earth orbit, performing whatever mission the Pentagon had prepared for its third test run.

In March, X-37B broke its own space longevity record for staying in orbit. Its two previous rounds in space in 2010 and 2011-2012 lasted 225 and 469 days, respectively…

Continue this article at RT.com

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We are a North American and European-based, grass-roots, independent blog offering geopolitical news and media analysis, working with an array of volunteer contributors who write and help to analyse news and opinion from around the world.
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