Science

Space Plane: Mysterious US military aircraft launches

Space Plane: Mysterious US military aircraft launches”

The U.S. military's mystery space plane rocketed into orbit again Sunday, this time with an extra load of science experiments.

United Launch Alliance, which provided the Atlas V rocket, declared success 1 1/2 hours after liftoff. The aircraft that was launched on Sunday - Operational Test Vehicle 6 - carries several USA military and NASA science experiments.

The X-37B is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft. Though it is now operated by the US Space Force, it remains a US Air Force asset.

"This X-37B mission will host more experiments than any prior missions", she said.

The U.S. Space Force has launched the next X-37B unmanned spacecraft into orbit for a classified mission.

More news: Navarro: CDC ‘Really Let the Country Down’ on Coronavirus Testing Early On

One question that has loomed over the X-37 is whether it has counterspace capabilities and could be used to test offensive technologies. Sign up to receive the week's news in space. "Therefore we have to stop the live broadcast so that we do not make it easy for adversaries to figure those things out by having that much data about the flight and deployment". At about 11,000 pounds and almost 29-foot long, the X-37B is large enough that it requires a big rocket like the Atlas 5 to get to orbit but not heavy enough to need extra solid boosters.

This was the 84th flight of the Atlas 5 since it entered service in 2002.

"The upcoming OTV-6 mission will mark the seventh mission the U.S. Space Force, and has the designation USSF-7".

The drone in turn will deploy a small research satellite dubbed FalconSat-8, to carry out additional experiments, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett explained earlier this month, elaborating on what up to now has been a highly secretive project. It uses solar panels for power in orbit.

U.S. Air Force X-37B lands at Kennedy Space Center. "We learn a lot about the value of reusability and autonomy", said Raymond. But it could be a while before the X-37 descends from orbit to end its mission with a runway landing.



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