Login

US Air Force readies X37-B space plane for a third classified flight

X37-B OTV-2 space plane

The mysterious X37-B plane is headed back to space tomorrow for a third mission, though we're still no closer to knowing exactly what the United States Air Force is using the aircraft for. Yet again the cargo being carried inside the unmanned Orbital Test Vehicle 3 (OTV-3) is heavily classified. The Air Force is touting one aspect of the mission however, and that's reusability. The X37-B plane being prepared for Tuesday's liftoff was the same one used in the inaugural 224-day OTV-1 flight in 2010. Officials say repurposing the aircraft in this manner demonstrates "a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the United States Air Force."

OTV-2 returned in June after an extensive 469-day mission — 200 days longer than originally planned. As the Pentagon has refused to offer any insight into these missions, critics maintain the Orbital Test Vehicle is being used for reconnaissance purposes. One report even accused the X37-B of spying on China, though that theory has met resistance of its own.

The Verge
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.
Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.