Astrophysicist Pulls The Curtain Back On Top Secret US Air Force Craft Used For ‘Testing Hardware’ In Space

Astrophysicist Talks Top Secret US Air Force Robotic Spacecraft X-37B


According to details recently reported by the Daily Express, “The U.S. Air Force has a top-secret mission in space that uses an old NASA project to ‘test hardware’ in the cosmos before officially launching it.”

That information was shared by astrophysicist Scott Manley with his 1.03 million subscribers on his popular YouTube channel. (Manley notes in his bio that he is not a professional YouTuber, he has a day job, and doesn’t take sponsored content for his videos.)

In his video titled “Everything We Know About The U.S. Air Force’s Secret Space Plane – The X-37B,” Manley discusses the classified missions that the Air Force has been carrying out for the past 10 years in low Earth orbit using a small reusable robotic space plane designated X-37B.

Manley, who holds a Masters in computation physics, states in the video while discussing the history of the plane, “NASA’s X-37 would see its first flight in 2005, carried under the White Knight, the carrier aircraft that would take the spaceship one vehicle to its launch altitude, where it would perform its prize-winning flights.

“So it did several captive carry tests and in 2006 they finally got to drop it and test it and the thing flew beautifully under a fully autonomous control, it aimed for the runway, it put itself down gently in the center of the runway and ran off the end where it sustained some minor damage.

“But not to be too perturbed by this they did repair it, went back, did another couple of test flights and these were flawless. And so having proved the technology the program worked up.

“But two months after that, the Air Force, finally having seen the error of their ways, announced they would be building the X-37B, a fully capable orbit vehicle. At that point, everything went quiet, because it was a super classified Department of Defense project.”

Manley also revealed some of the X-37B’s specs, saying, “For maneuvering in space there’s a set of reaction control thrusters fore and aft, all integrated neatly into the surface and there’s a single large engine at the rear.

“Now it’s unusual for this because the single engine isn’t actually square on the rear, it’s offset to the right a little. But it does of course still aim through the center of the mass.

“The original NASA design called for a pair of engines which would be using hydrogen peroxide and JP8, which is another variety of kerosene. The Air Force version supposedly uses monomethylhydrazine and dinitrogen tetroxide and that’s why after it lands the first people that approach it are wearing fully self-contained life support suits, because of course, hydrazine is scary stuff.”

“As far as I know the actual engine has not been revealed, but it’s probably a pressure fed system that gets 700 to 900 Newtons of thrust,” he continued. “There is no cockpit, or windows, or anything like that for people inside, but there is a payload bay door that is a couple of meters long.”

Manley states that “so far, there have been five flights with this vehicle, and we know that there are two separate vehicles that have been identified due to subtle differences in their hardware.”

He also says in the video that he believes “what they are doing is testing hardware for future satellites.”

“They can test the electronics, sensors, propulsion, thermal control systems and then return it to Earth,” he states. “So they can really assess how it performs in space and how it degraded over time.”

“NASA does this all the time on the Space Station, but of course the Space Station is an international project with people from all over the world and the Department of Defense no doubt would prefer to keep their new special high-tech toys away from any prying eyes that are not classified U.S. citizens.”

Fascinating stuff.

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Before settling down at BroBible, Douglas Charles, a graduate of the University of Iowa (Go Hawks), owned and operated a wide assortment of websites. He is also one of the few White Sox fans out there and thinks Michael Jordan is, hands down, the GOAT.