Secretive Military ‘Space Plane’ Caught on Camera by Dutch Astronomer

One of the US military’s most secretive aircraft has finally been captured on camera in flight.

The X-37B, a so-called “spaceplane” that orbits the earth before returning to the ground, is an unmanned aircraft that travels more than 200 miles above the planet’s surface. It started as a NASA project, before being transferred to the Department of Defense in 2004.

Ambiguity about the aircraft’s role in national security has led many to believe it’s utilized to gather intelligence on potential U.S adversaries from a distance that provides more insight than satellite imagery, while avoiding the hazards of entering foreign airspace.

Dutch astronomer Ralf Vandeberg has become the first to photograph the aircraft in flight, having attempted to do so for months. He was able to catch images of the X-37B in orbit around the earth between June 30th and July 2nd.

The unmanned drone is comparable in shape to the space shuttle, which was retired several years ago. Vandeberg’s imagery of the craft confirmed that it was in fact the secretive military aircraft, possessing the signature payload bay door seen in pictures of the aircraft on the ground.

As the national conversation about unidentified flying objects heats up despite ignorance of the topic from mainstream media, observers on the ground are left wondering about the mission and purpose of the secretive unmanned aircraft flying hundreds of miles above the earth’s surface.