A small white and black plane resembling a miniature, unmanned version of the space shuttle was launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral last night. The U.S. Air Force has revealed very little about the nature of the flight or how long the ship (which is about 30 ft long and 10 ft tall) will remain in space, only explaining that it will be testing navigation, guidance, thermal protections and autonomous operation in orbit, re-entry and landing. It’s widely believed the craft is being used to test new weapons systems. In
a statement on Thursday, the Air Force stated only that “this launch helps ensure that our warfighters will be provided the capabilities they need in the future.” The secretive X-37B program is thought to have cost hundreds of millions of dollars.