The spaceship, X-37B, dubbed a ‘secret space warplane’ by the Iranians, has been in orbit since March 5, although the mission and its cargo are on a need-to-know basis. “On-orbit experimentation is continuing,” Air Force Major Tracy Bunko, a spokesperson for the secretary of the Air Force, told Spaceflight Now. “Though we cannot predict when that will be complete, we are learning new things about the vehicle every day, which makes the mission a very dynamic process.” The X-37B is a black-budget-funded, unmanned mini-shuttle whose exact purposes are unknown. US officials in charge of the winged, reusable craft say its a good way of getting new techs into space quickly because you don’t need to build a satellite to take them. They add that because the planes are reusable, they can test new gadgets and if they don’t work, you’re not writing off a billion- or million-dollar satellite.
Excerpt, Brid-Aine Parnell, Clandestine US ‘space warplane’ extends orbital mission, The Register, Dec. 1, 2011