Secret X-37B Space Plane Spotted by Amateur Skywatchers

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DPD1

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If the government was smart, they'd instantly offer people like that a job. But they usually aren't, so...
 

E-Man

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That guy must be on the top of the world with that catch.
 

eorange

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I read Blanks Spots on the Map, which had a chapter about Ted Molczan.

He and folks like him use Orbitron to map all known satellites. When they observe something in the sky that doesn't fit any known orbit, then they know they've discovered a new, unknown satellite.

THEN they proceed to develop the kep elements so they can continue to track it. These guys are dedicated!
 
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DaveNF2G

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It's not a secret, only some of its capabilities and its specific mission parameters are classified. Photos have been published online and in mainstream media. The Air Force has issued press releases about test flights.
 

eorange

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Saw it!

I saw the X-37B tonight! Very cool. The pass was easy to spot even with a 3.0 magnitude, because it cut right across Saturn.

Always humbling to see things like that, knowing we put that up there.

Anyone else catch a pass?
 

E-Man

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I saw the X-37B tonight! Very cool. The pass was easy to spot even with a 3.0 magnitude, because it cut right across Saturn.

Always humbling to see things like that, knowing we put that up there.

Anyone else catch a pass?
Awesome, Need to add telescope to the toy list.
 

DPD1

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I saw the X-37B tonight! Very cool. The pass was easy to spot even with a 3.0 magnitude, because it cut right across Saturn.

Always humbling to see things like that, knowing we put that up there.

Anyone else catch a pass?
I keep meaning to watch and I forget. I was in the desert a while back and saw two objects in formation... I think that might have been the GRACE pair.
 

eorange

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Awesome, Need to add telescope to the toy list.
Not for satellite observing, you don't. The X-37B (and the ISS, for example) are plainly visible with the naked eye.

Your natural, wide-field-of-vision view helps you initially spot it - it's the only moving thing in the sky (that's not blinking like an airplane) against the backdrop of stars and planets.

In fact, it would be pretty challenging to track them with a telescope.
 

E-Man

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Cool, I will have to keep a look out then.
 

rdale

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There is nothing secret about it anymore
Well, except for its mission, its duration, its capabilities, its sensor package, its control system, and just about everything else... Because it can be seen doesn't really mean a whole lot. Everyone knew it would be seen.

But what is it doing? Still a secret.
 
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DaveNF2G

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Do we really need to know?

It would be nice if the military could perform its duties without the press alerting everyone on the planet about ever move.
 

rdale

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We don't, and we never will know the full extent of its mission ever. Seeing it isn't giving away any intel to our enemies.
 

eorange

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Seeing it isn't giving away any intel to our enemies.
I bet the Soviets would have disagreed with you when they first spotted the U-2. They had a pretty good idea, from their intel, that it was either for reconnaissance or atomic purposes.

And they were half right - back in the 1950s!
 

rdale

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I'm not sure what you are saying? It's known that this is for intelligence purposes at the least. What I'm saying is that the news reports about the amateurs who found the track is not giving away any secrets that our enemies couldn't have figured out on their own.
 
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