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Just How Many X-37Bs Are There?

by John Reed on March 22, 2012

So Air Force Space Command boss Gen. William Shelton gave us a tiny bit more insight into the service’s super secret space spycraft, the X-37B, when he said that it’s doing its super secret — and year-long — mission excellently and that there’s no need for a bigger version of it or to increase the size of the X-37B fleet.

What was really interesting about his comments, was the fact that he wouldn’t say just how big the fleet is. Keep in mind that the service has said that it’s got two of the mini-shuttles for a while now, but Shelton’s response to a question about the size of the fleet raised more questions than it answered.

“There’s no plan, certainly that we can afford, to increase the fleet size,” said Shelton during a breakfast with reporters in Washington this morning. When a reporter followed up to his statement by asking if the fleet size was just two vehicles, Shelton replied by saying, “let me check on whether or not I can talk about that.”

Weird, considering that the service has been very public about the fact that it has two of the space planes. His response seems to open the door to the possibility that there are more than just two X-37Bs.

Other than that, all Shelton would say about the robo-shuttle program is that “it is doing very well on-orbit and we don’t have an exact reentry date for it, it’s had a successful mission and we are very happy with the performance.”

He was discussing the record breaking flight of the second X-37B, dubbed Orbital Test Vehicle-2, that has been aloft for more than a year now. As for what it’s been doing for that year, we can only guess.

Update: We just heard from the Air Force, they maintain that there are only two X-37Bs and the next flight of OTV-1 is scheduled for the fall of 2012.

 

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris March 22, 2012 at 11:29 am

There is a lot more up there than we know about down here ;)

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justsaying March 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm

And you're okay with this?

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Belesari March 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Yep because people generaly can use information like you know who our spys are what info we have to hurt us. This is called spycraft and intelligence.

So yes im ok with this. If i was in china maybe not but then if i was chinese i would probably also be happy about it.

Thats the reality if the world. Dont like it? Well tough……reality doesnt care about hopes or dreams or principles its murdered the vast magority of species basicly its a bitch.

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justsaying March 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Who is "people?" I don't believe there's been a direct attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, so I think it's a bit paranoid.

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Ke Ke March 22, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Why do you think a thug is more likely going to attack an elderly or weakly male/female whilst a third-degree black belt karate expert would never have to worry about that thug? Deterrence through strength, not just peace. Does that answer your question?

Occassionally, the karate expert would also carry a knife/gun to boot.

ipadpilot March 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm

how about 9/11…?

Nick T. March 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Tinkering with Chinese satellites perhaps?

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TLAM Strike March 22, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Sorry but "There ain't no stealth in space". http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/spacewardetect.p

I observed the 1st X-37B in orbit with a cheap pair of binoculars. Hiding any spacecraft of useful size is imposable. The power systems expel waste heat, maneuvering thrusters produce heat and visible exhaust, the craft's hull, solar panels and heat radiators reflect sunlight. Not to mention that the launch shows up on half the radar screens in the world.

You are not sneaking something up there bigger than a soft ball.

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Oli March 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm

It most likely has new tech that it’s testing. One of those tech is its electric propulsion, Energy extraction and management system is another example. The plane might have new improved solar panels. Plane would be there until it gives or they are satisfied with the parameters they set.

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Sgt. Buffy March 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm

"third X-37B space plane mission is being readied" Along with the first mission. The second plane is to launch sometime next may… Space.com, if you're interested, and CBS.com
So possibly as many as 3, with the 3rd currently being built. Space-trackers track even the most high-profile targets, amateur trackers and professional alike, so it's improbable that they have multiple planes up there. You can keep a technology secret, but something like a space-launch is hard to hide. The same trackers say that the trajectory is similar to those of imaging satellites, that it might be gathering imagery intel. Sounds on target to me, maybe this is what China is testing Space-space weaponry, to take out this kind of thing.

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J-rock March 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Area 51 is not dead!

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Lance March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Maybe the X-37 is doing so well that's why they cancelled the Global Hawk and let this and the U-2 do the spy flying? Who knows?

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Sgt_Buffy March 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm

p.s. I got a profile. woot-woot.

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Prodozul March 22, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I heard they were making an x-37c that would be a scaled up version able to accomodate 6 astronauts and be launched from an atlas V

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Sgt_Buffy March 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Boeing has announced plans to officially build said X-37C. Good for them.

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PolicyWonk March 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Maybe there enough room in the cargo bay to give Newt a lift :-D

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Ke Ke March 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm

It is spying on the Chinese new space lab… well, at least the first module anyway.

Oops… Was that a Chinese space lab?

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tiger March 22, 2012 at 7:24 pm

"So what IS the X-37 doing?"
Looking for Dr. Evil in the Bob's Big Boy…..

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Lance March 23, 2012 at 12:07 am

"So whats it doing"

Looking to spy on China and tick them off that there radar can see it but its too far up to intercept.

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tiger March 28, 2012 at 7:37 am

We have Spy Sats for that job already……

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jamesb March 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Thanks Sgt….
The space trackers have a book about them I believe…

3, eh?

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cattlegrd March 22, 2012 at 11:40 pm

it's all AI at this point friends, notice the trolls in suits?

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Rudy March 23, 2012 at 9:38 am

There are six in the fleet. Classified info. It's too early yet to determine if the XB37B's will make shuttle flights. A later model is planned to accomodate these missions.

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dark side March 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Where do you know they have six in a fleet?

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Ramon July 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Go to https// morning after.com/funnel

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Rick March 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Maybe it's really Obama's idea for a solar aircraft. Isn't that really why he shut down the shuttle?

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killercrawford March 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Bush killed the shuttle. By the time Obama got in office and asked, he was told it would be too expensive to extend the shuttle program.

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blight_ March 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I heard that Obama wanted to eliminate heavy brigades and replace them with special forces and bombers from on high.

Whoops, that was Rumsfeld. Mea culpa.

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Uncle Bill March 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm

The Shuttle died right on schedule. Back in the sixties it was assumed a vastly superior
vehicle would be ready by now.

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blight_ March 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm

We assumed we'd be in moon colonies back in the day.

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TLAM Strike March 23, 2012 at 11:19 pm

and today if a politician mentions them they are laughed at.

What a sorry state we are in. :(

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Sgt_Buffy March 26, 2012 at 8:00 am

We should still make Moon colonies. Just because that would be so frikin sweet. Besides, we're all getting bored down here.

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tiger March 28, 2012 at 7:40 am

2001 And Stanley Kubrick? The ipad is not quite a HAL9000.

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John Waters June 17, 2012 at 5:00 am

Obama did not end the shuttle program . George w Bush signed the order ending the program. Do some reading about it.

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Jerry May 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm

If only we could talk the big BHO to take a test flight, with say the target the SUN, just dreaming, but at 60 plus years on this old planet, I think I have earned the right.

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passingby March 22, 2012 at 11:53 pm

the terrorists involved in 9-11? You've got to arrest Dick Cheney and his ilk for some "enhanced interrogation"

Those responsible for security and access control at the twin towers and bldg 7 should also be investigated

9-11 was an inside job. No a shred of doubt about it.

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Mark March 23, 2012 at 8:27 am

Not a shred of doubt that you have been off your rocker for some time now. Did your elevator EVER reach the top ???

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justsaying March 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Defame defame defame. That's all the detractors can do. What will the detractors be saying when the conspiracy against America enters its final stages? What will they be saying when they're all using Ameros and the U.S. has been dissolved and merged with Canada and Mexico? Sieg heil probably!

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