X-37B Not A Space Weapons Platform Says Secure World Foundation

X-37B Not A Space Weapons Platform Says Secure World Foundation

A fact sheet from the Secure World Foundation (SWF) analyzes the likely and less-likely missions of the Air Force’s X-37B spacecraft launched amidst great secrecy last month. Secrecy invites speculation, and some suggest that it might be a satellite inspector or a platform for weapons aimed at Earth. SWF’s Brian Weeden concludes that while it has the capability to perform inspections, “it is unlikely to perform these functions given its limited payload and altitude range.” He completely dismisses the possibility that it could be a space weapon platform, rating that likelihood as “zero.”

What is it doing? Weeden thinks its main purpose is testing reusable space launch vehicle technologies, and sensor technologies and satellite hardware for remote sensing of the Earth. That likelihood is rated high. In the “medium” category is the possibility that it could be a deployment platform for Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) satellites. The ORS concept is to enable reconstitution of critical satellite capabilities if one or more satellites unexpectedly cease functioning or to launch new satellites to respond to a time-critical need.

Meanwhile, amateur space watchers tracking the satellite using visual observations determined that it has a ground track repeat pattern similar to imaging reconnaissance satellites according to the New York Times. The newspaper quotes Canadian Ted Molczan, a well known member of an international network of amateur satellite visual observers, as saying that the satellite was observed by team members in Canada and South Africa.

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