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The X-37B space plane begins its sixth mission to space

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 20 may 2020, 6:12 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 9 oct 2020, 11:18 ]
On Sunday, May 17, 2020, United Launch Alliance launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, an Atlas 5 rocket that put into orbit the United States Air Force X-37B space plane, thereby launching its sixth mission.
The X-37B space plane has a design that resembles the now decommissioned space shuttles'. On Sunday, May 17. 2020, it began its sixth trip to space in another secret and classified mission for NASA and the American military.
The X-37B is a reusable space vehicle that undertakes long missions —secret and classified — that can last up to two years. The mission launched on Sunday carries several military and NASA science experiments.

The aircraft, built by Boeing, has a design very similar to the already decommissioned American space shuttles. 

US Air Force Secretary, Barbara Barrett, told reporters that the X-37B is “worthy of disclosure” and an asset that the American public should become familiar with. However, the specific tasks that the vehicle performs in space are classified. In its live broadcast of the launch, United Launch Alliance (ULA) was only able to show the first seven minutes of the flight.

“The details of the vehicle, the mission it will do on orbit, and where it will go, all that is classified,” ULA’s CEO Tory Bruno told reporters. “We have to stop the live broadcast early so we don’t provide adversaries too much data about the flight,” he added. 


The peculiar plane will be in space for months and will deploy a small research satellite called FalconSat-8, Barbara Barrett explained earlier this month. “This X-37B mission will carry more experiments than any previous mission,” Barrett said. 

However, it is known that among the experiments to be carried out, the X-37B will test the effect of radiation on seeds and other materials and that it will transform solar energy into microwave radio frequency energy that could be transmitted to the ground. 

The chief of space operations for the US Space Force, General John Raymond, was at Cape Canaveral with Barbara Barrett to observe the launch of the mission codenamed USSF-7. 

In a conference call with reporters, General Raymond stated that the US military is gaining valuable information with each new X-37B mission. “We learn a lot about the value of reusability and autonomy,” he said. In its five flights so far, the X-37B spent 2,865 days in orbit.

Upon completing its mission, the aircraft returns to Earth and lands autonomously. 

Previous missions

The first mission of the X-37B took place in 2010 and on Sunday, October 27, 2019, the vehicle landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ending its fifth mission with which it scored a record 780 days in orbit. 

The space plane has a small cargo bay and gets the power to operate from a deployable solar device. 

The vehicle weighs almost five tons, is 8.8 meters long, just under 4.5 meters from one wingtip to the other, and was designed to stay in orbit for 270 days. 

Source: Spacenews.com