Space Force launches mysterious X-37B space plane

Space Science

The X-37B space plane ahead is seen tucked inside the payload fairing of its Atlas V rocket ahead of a May 17, 2020 launch. (Image: U.S. Air Force)

MYSTERY WIRE — The United States Space Force is behind the most recent launch in Florida. It launched the mysterious X-37B space plane Sunday, May 17 for the sixth time.

The rocket used in the launch was the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. It took place at the secretive Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

While the X-37B’s exact purpose is a secret, Space Force officials have talked about how it can be used to carry various experiments and systems under development into space. also reports the U.S. Space Force and Air Force Rapid Response Capabilities Office have two of the miniature shuttle-like X-37B space planes (also known as Orbital Test Vehicles, or OTVs) that it uses for classified military missions in low-Earth orbit. They have flown five missions since 2010, four of them on ULA Atlas V rockets and the fifth on a SpaceX Falcon 9.

The U.S. Air Force was originally in charge of the space plane missions, that mission has transferred the command to the Space Force.

Space Force officials have said that the experiments and technology the X-37B carries “enables the U.S. to more efficiently and effectively develop space capabilities necessary to maintain superiority in the space domain.”

Officials at the 45th Space Wing said they have been doing their part to make sure the launch went smoothly while simultaneously protecting its workforce from COVID-19.

The X-37B space plane is about 29 feet long and resembles a miniature space shuttle. For OTV_6, the robotic spacecraft carried a new service module that supports more experiments and longer stays in space (Image: UAL)

“We have an obligation to keep space capabilities up and running for our nation,” Gen. John Raymond, chief of space operations in the U.S. Space Force and commander of the U.S. Space Command said.

Earlier in May, the U.S. Air Force revealed some of the satellite payloads and experiments it will carry this month, including one that will try converting the sun’s energy into a form that can be sent to Earth.During a telephone briefing, Air Force officials told reporters, “The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, will transform solar power into radio frequency microwave energy which could then be transmitted to the ground.”

Air Force’s unmanned shuttle lands after 780-day orbit reports a 1-square-foot solar panel will try to convert solar radiation to regular DC current and then into microwaves and sent via cable to a box to measure.

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