Secret spacecraft in orbit managed to photograph from Earth

Photograph of a Boeing X-37B taken from Earth through a 10-inch (254 mm) telescope. On the right is a raw image (Raw), as well as its enlarged and extrapolated version. Left - photo analysis based on the real appearance of the spaceplane

Of course, a miracle did not happen and the X-37B takes several tens of pixels in the picture - it is almost impossible to get an image of higher quality and resolution using amateur technology. However, even from such a photo one can judge that the spaceplane is in orbit with the solar panels unfolded and an open payload compartment. At the time of the shooting on July 2, the orbital plane was in space for 657 days, which is not a record for this model. An unmanned shuttle fell into the frame at an altitude of 340 kilometers above the surface of the Earth.

To "catch" such a unique prey, Ralph took several months of calculations and observations. It was possible to visually detect the spaceplane in May, but when after a couple of weeks there was time for shooting, the ship was no longer in the same orbit - it maneuvered. It was possible to see the X-37B again only with the help of a network of the same enthusiasts and amateur astronomers, and the pictures were taken on June 30 and July 2. Promoting everything, Vandeberg was the first civilian to photograph a secret shuttle in a working position.

Comparison of space shuttles that have completed at least one flight

Appearance and dimensions of the X-37B. In 2011, Boeing announced plans to create a modification of the X-37C, which will be about one and a half times larger and will be able to take astronauts on board.

The known characteristics and capabilities of the X-37B cause concern among many - it is assumed that this shuttle can be used for espionage, the study of other satellites, or even disable them

The reusable unmanned spacecraft Boeing X37 was created by order and with the direct participation of the U.S. Air Force. Its structure and characteristics remain secret - only the dimensions and weight were published: 8.9 meters in length, 4.55 m in width at the tips of the wings, the maximum weight is 4.99 tons, and the cargo compartment has dimensions of 2.1x1.2 meters. On the network, you can find very few photos or videos of this space plan, and its tasks are not disclosed in detail. Representatives of US government agencies answer all questions about the appointment of the X-37B, which is a test apparatus for conducting orbital experiments in the interests of the Ministry of Defense. It is well known that an automatic shuttle can independently change its orbit over a wide range, spend almost two years in space, and then return to the base airfield in California.

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