Even since amateur astronomers picked up on the orbit of the Air Force’s secret X37-B space plane, others have been trying to capture images of the mini-space shuttle look-alike. So far, images have been just streaks or dots, but Universe Today reader Brent (a.k.a. HelloBozos) was actually able to image the plane in some detail. “This is the first I know of or have seen an actual photo taken of the X37-B Air Force Space Plane in some detail, while in orbit!” Brent said in an email. He tracked the X37-B manually with his telescope’s handcontroller, and he used a CanonT1i prime focus on a 2 inch diagonal. “This image was taken on 5-26-2010 at 9:48 pm EST, Orlando, Florida, USA. It crossed from the southwest to the northeast, crossing next to Mars and headed to the handle of the Big Dipper on a 71 degree pass.”
Below, Brent also captured a flare of the X37-B.
Brent says on the colored photo, “you can make out the main wings, a rear canard, and what I dub the “Fly Swatter’ solar panel.”
Thanks to Brent for sharing his images. Nice — and fast — shooting! And this isn’t the first time Brent was keeping his telescope’s eye out for the X37-B. He also shot the launch in good detail, even from 60 miles away. The volume is cranked on this one:
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.