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US Military Prepares for Seventh X-37b Space Plane Mission

The United States military is getting ready to launch its secretive X-37B space plane on its seventh mission in orbit. The uncrewed vehicle, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, is scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Unlike previous missions, the X-37B will be launched into orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

Although the specific purpose of the X-37B is classified, it has been a source of fascination within the space community. Skywatchers have occasionally caught glimpses of the space plane in the night sky using telescopes, but its true activities remain unknown. The U.S. Space Force has not disclosed many details about X-37B missions in the past, leaving experts to speculate on its purpose and location.

According to the Space Force, the upcoming OTV-7 mission will involve conducting various tests, including experimenting with space domain awareness technologies and investigating the effects of radiation on NASA materials. The X-37B’s previous mission lasted 908 days in orbit, and it has launched six times on different rocket platforms.

With the Falcon Heavy booster, the X-37B will have the capability to operate in “new orbital regimes.” The space plane’s duration in space and its ultimate orbit altitude are unknown due to the military’s secretive nature. However, the Space Force asserts that these missions are crucial to ensuring safe and responsible operations in space for all users of the space domain.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall praised the X-37B mission, stating that it exemplifies the innovative spirit of the United States Space Force. Built by Boeing, the X-37B measures around 29 feet long and is designed to return to Earth and land on a runway.

Previous X-37B missions have involved conducting civilian science experiments, such as testing solar energy harnessing technology and studying the effects of space on organic materials over extended periods. With another mission on the horizon, the X-37B continues to captivate the imagination while carrying out its secretive tasks in the vastness of space.

Source: Citylife