How Much Does the X-37B Space Plane Cost?

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The Squander Staff
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This weekend marked the end of a 2 year journey for the Air Force's top secret X-37B space plane. The plane started its journey in May 2015, and has been circling the earth ever since.

But how much does the X-37B cost?

X-37B: Unmanned Air Force Space Plane Takes To The Skies

The X-37B started its journey in 2015, when it was launched on mission USA-261 from Cape Canaveral. This was the second X-37B -- there was another one that went on missions in the early 2010s.

According to reports by IBT, the X-37B on this most current mission was testing EmDrive -- an electromagnetic thrust technology that would totally upend flight.

EmDrive would allow spacecraft to fly much farther distances, because fuel would not be a limiting factor.

IBT notes that the Chinese are also testing this technology.

The X-37B will be followed by another generation of the X-37 aircraft, the X-37C. That version will be larger than its predecessor.

How Much Does The X-37B Space Plane Cost?

The X-37B is part of a multi-decade program.

The cost of this current mission is only part of a larger budget that includes several versions of the X-37 aircraft, as well as the cost of the experimental technologies placed aboard.

According NASA's records, the initial iteration of the X-37 program was $173 million, with the U.S. government footing half the R&D bill, and Boeing putting in the rest. The government added another $40 million before this first iteration was concluded.

Once the first iteration proved successful, the government spent another $300 million to get the project through its first stages.

However, after that initial round of development, the project was transferred to DARPA, which allowed it to become a classified budget item. So there is no publicly available cost for the project.

We can estimate the X-37B space plane cost based on similar programs. Over the approximately 20 years that the project has been in development, we estimate the X-37B space plane cost at around $20 billion.