That secret space plane and why my holiday in Borneo is now in doubt

Thanks to a comment by Craig Gibbs (Thanks, Craig), we can now see what the secret (I think they may have missed something here) space plane which everyone in the Western Cape thought was coming to probe us on Tuesday evening.

X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle

Of course, this is it in daylight, not jettisoning fuel. It looks completely different at night, above Cape Town, squirting kerosene and hydrogen peroxide into the upper atmosphere. I can personally vouch for this.

This from the initial launch of the X-37B, back in 2010:

The craft was recently completed and has a 4.5 meter wingspan with a length of 8.9 meters.  It comes equipped with kerosene and hydrogen peroxide fuel tanks, an experimental bay, a large navigation “brain”, and likely other more secret components.What’s it doing in space?  Your guess is as good as anyone else’s.  And guesses tend to range from “deploying spy satellites” to “maintaining spy satellites”.

I’m no expert on top secret military hardware, but if they want to keep it a bit more secret than it is, it’s probably best not to release photos of it on a runway, nor attract the attention of several thousand confused South Africans on a Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, in unconnected news, Professor Anna Nekaris at Oxford Brookes University have found a nocturnal primate in Borneo which can kill you with toxin from its elbow. Wait? What? But yes:

“The slow loris might look like a harmless, big-eyed Ewok from a scene in Star Wars, but the animal is actually one of the only poisonous mammals in the world. Its toxin can cause death in humans through anaphylactic shock. Unknowing humans should stay clear of the toxin, which is released from nears its elbows. When threatened, the loris takes the toxin into its mouth and mixes it with saliva.”

I would imagine that knowing humans would also do well to keep their distance. Especially if it starts licking its elbow, not matter how  entertaining it would be to watch it try. Fortunately, I’m now a knowing human, and I have thus cancelled my plans to holiday in the rain forests of Borneo, at night.

You’d probably be wise to do the same.

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