What is the X-37B? Boeing X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle Space Plane

What is the X-37B?  Boeing X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle Space Plane

Hello, my name is Ben Lovegrove and in this
video I’m going to try to answer several questions relating to the Boeing X-37B Orbital
Test Vehicle. Since this unmanned orbital spacecraft was
first launched there have been innumerable videos and articles speculating as to its
purpose. In this video I’ll summarise the information
that is in the public domain and then I’ll list some of the theories about the X-37B’s
secret purposes. So watch this video to the end and if you
think I’ve missed any key points then please add a comment below and I’ll look into it. The X-37B is the second in a series of unmanned
space vehicles known as Orbital Test Vehicles (OTV) designed and built by Boeing. They are launched and operated by United States
Air Force (USAF) for the purpose of testing reusable space technologies. The X-37 is launched into low orbit using
conventional rockets like the Atlas 7 or SpaceX Falcon 9 and glides back to Earth as an unpowered
space plane. Low Earth orbit means that it flies lower
than orbiting satellites and much lower than geostationary satellites. The project began under NASA as a civilian
project but was later transferred to the US Department of Defense. It was originally designed to be a reusable
space vehicle for the purposes of launching, servicing, or retrieving satellites. It can also carry equipment and instruments
into space where they can be tested and returned to Earth for analysis. For these reasons it is a cost effective method
of testing new technologies but we may not be aware of these advantages until the technologies
are used in other projects. Since then very few of the of the X-37B’s
experiments and tests have been made public. The resemblance to the Space Shuttle is no
coincidence since its aerodynamic design was based on the Shuttle. There have been several orbital missions in
the last few years. The latest began on 7th September 2017 when
the X-37B was launched into orbit using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. At the time of creating this video the X-37B
is still orbiting the Earth and can be tracked using popular astronomy apps like Sky Guide. Yes, that’s right. Contrary to what some
have said it’s not so secret that it can’t be tracked by anyone using one of several
free or inexpensive apps. Each of the X-37B missions has been longer
than the previous and all of them are controlled by the US military. The mission prior to the current one lasted
718 days when the X-37B touched down in Florida in May 2017. There are plenty more details (with all the
appropriate citations) about the X-37 models and the OTV missions in Wikipedia. The page is Boeing_X-37. What is the true purpose of the X-37? Given the fact the the X-37 is financed and
controlled by the USAF it is logical to assume that its purpose is at least in part of a
military nature. We know from history that the military has
worked on top secret projects and only released information when it is deemed appropriate
to do so. Everyone, including those in high office,
is treated on a ‘need to know’ basis. When the time is right the news media is used
to disseminate information but it also sometimes employed to scatter disinformation. That is, information that’s partly or totally
false (as opposed to misinformation which is information that is unintentionally wrong). The design, building, and development of the
Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a good example. This was a genuine black project that very
few people knew about in the 1970s and early 1980s. As a consequence test aircraft probably accounted
for some of the UFO sightings in those years since the aircraft were based at Groom Lake
in Nevada (Area 51). Even when it became operational the details
of the F-117 remained a closely guarded secret. So today, in the absence of any reliable information
people have been left to guess as to what exactly the X-37B is doing up there. As the speculation regarding its true purpose
begins the experts (self appointed or otherwise) start talking and the rumour mill swings into
action. Ideas have included; a low orbit delivery
mechanism for WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction), reconnaissance (i.e. spying on other countries),
and the testing secret space thrusters. Other theories include a means to disable
or destroy enemy satellites using lasers, kinetic weapons, or more subtle means that
nudge satellites into re-entry and destruction, destroying any evidence of interference in
the process. Some have also claimed it’s there purely
to confuse the Chinese who appear to have developed a similar looking smaller space
plane called Shenlong, though very little information about it exists. So far there has been no confirmation nor
evidence to support any of these claims. There is the possibility that it’s a combination
of military and civilian research both of which are kept secret not because these purposes
are particularly sinister but simply because they want to protect intellectual property
as well as military secrets. It is a paradox of our age that on the one
hand we have the cooperation and mutual respect that leads to success stories such as the
International Space Station. But on the other hand countries remain suspicious
of each other, fearful of their motives, and determined to prepare for wars that no one
wants. One of most enduring legacies of the Apollo missions is the impact on human consciousness
of the view of the Earth from space. Seeing our fragile blue planet from afar has
shifted our race’s perspective. There’s a growing sense that we should be
a united planet on which wars between nations are a thing of the past. Perhaps then we could divert some of the military
spending to finance further exploration of space. What of the future? In 2011 Boeing announced plans for the X-37C
which is planned to be 165-180% the size of the X-37B. The X-37C will be able to carry up to six
astronauts into space within a pressurised compartment in the cargo bay. This announcement has lead to further speculation
and it’s not hard to imagine that the X-37C could be used to transport astronauts to and
from the International Space Station or some other similar station. Or these astronauts could carry out additional
covert military research. Whatever’s going on up there, keep watching
and imagining. It seems we’re just at the beginning and
this story has a long way to go yet. Thanks for watching. If you found anything
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want to watch.


  1. The USAF X-37B broke the record for spaceflight duration on August 2016 by spending more than 717 days, 20 hours and 42 minutes in space, the record set by the previous mission known as Orbital Test Vehicle 4 (OTV-4).

  2. It's an Air Force asset to obtain high resolution pictures of areas of interest. It's picture/video content is property of the DOD. It's controlled flight, unlike a predictable satellite

  3. What if that lil guy is up there putting a microchip on every single satellite, like a farmer tagging cattle, and at any moment, the USAF could disable any satellite instantly.
    Makes sense, first thing you do at war is cut the enemy's power and communications.

  4. Thank you for sharing this video. My son has no end to his questions of what we are now using to go into space. We just watched together.

  5. The military policy is to never lie, they simply leave no comment outside official statements. They're under no obligation to provide any cover story or explanation for anything, but reporters can say what they want.

    And this site counts as a "self-appointed expert."

  6. Dutch astronomer captures a photo of the X-37B http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv_upload.php?upload_id=154946

  7. If you made me guess……the way the ground crews always act like it's covered in radiation, makes me think its probably up there replacing, or fixing out-dated warheads. I know there is a treaty banning nuclear weapons in space, but I'm sure all the major players have violated that treaty. But who the hell knows. None of us simpletons will ever know.

  8. Flying testbed is probably most of it but my other guess is that they can put payloads up that for whatever reason don't have a long lifespan before they need to be brought back to be rebuilt, re-calibrated or some consumable is expended.

  9. I'm hoping a use could be to deliver a mechanism to destroy meteors that are heading for earth preventing wide-spread devastation on earth. I've read the air force has a program tracking meteors already. Hoping this is a tool they could use for a preemptive strike on a meteor BEFORE IT HITS EARTH!

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