Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Air Force's former top civilian recently gave a glimpse into the mission of an experimental space plane that has puzzled space geeks, enthusiasts, experts and even some officials because of its clandestine use.

Speaking about space situational awareness and deterrence at the Aspen Security Forum last week, Heather Wilson — who was the service's 24th secretary — brought up the X-37B spacecraft.

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Amid America’s national meltdown over the future Space Force, the State Department implied that the militarization of space is well underway. In a recent press briefing, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Dr. Yleem D.S. Poblete suggested that a group of Russian satellites may have been placed in orbit as a weapon against U.S. space assets, an orbital parasite that may be able to maneuver in orbit, evade U.S. sensors, and disable, attack, or otherwise interfere with other orbiting objects like reconnaissance and GPS satellites.

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Photo via DoD

The Air Force’s top secret unmanned X-37B space plane blasted off on its fifth flight on Sept. 7, launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with an assist from a Falcon 9 rocket booster belonging to billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX, the Associated Press reports.

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U.S. Air Force photo

The U.S. military's X-37B space plane landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Sunday, ending its record-breaking 718-day orbit with a sonic boom during its first landing in Florida.

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