Secret Spacecraft
Secret Space Plane - X-37B

SECRET SPACE PLANE:

 
NASA's space shuttle program may be winding down, but the US Air Force's is just getting started. On April 22nd, the USAF launched an unmanned mini-shuttle from Cape Canaveral on a secret mission widely thought to involve reconnaissance. The X-37B can now be seen gliding through the night sky shining about as brightly as the stars of the Big Dipper. On Sunday night, Gary O. photographed it streaking over the treetops of his home in Fort Davis, Texas:
 
 "This was my first chance to photograph the X-37B," says Gary. "It was easy to see. I estimate its magnitude at about +2.8."

The whereabouts of the X-37B were unknown until May 20th when amateur satellite watchers Greg Roberts of Cape Town, South Africa, and Kevin Fetter of Brockville, Canada, independently spotted it. Another satellite sleuth, Ted Molczan of Toronto, Canada, combined their observations to determine the space plane's orbit. With this information in hand, Fetter was able to find the X-37B again the next night; here it is on May 21st passing the 3rd-magnitude star Sadalsuud in Aquarius.

SOURCE: Space Weather May 25, 2010

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