Home U.S. US military's mystery space plane rockets back into orbit
US military's mystery space plane rockets back into orbit

US military's mystery space plane rockets back into orbit

0

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. military’s mystery space plane rocketed into orbit again Sunday, this time with an extra load of science experiments.

Start a Homeland Security degree at American Military University.

It’s the sixth flight of an X-37B, a solar-powered plane that’s flown by remote control without a crew.

Officials aren’t saying how long the spacecraft will remain in orbit this time or the purpose of the mission. But a senior vice president for X-37B developer Boeing, Jim Chilton, noted each mission has been progressively longer.

The previous mission lasted a record two years, with a touchdown shrouded in darkness at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last year.

The winged spacecraft resembles NASA’s old shuttles, but is just one-quarter the size at 29 feet (9 meters) long. The one just launched features an extra compartment for experiments, including several for NASA and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, making it the biggest science load yet for an X-37B.

The Air Force has two of these reusable space planes. Their home base is a former space shuttle hangar at Kennedy.

“You could say that the X-37B stands on the shoulders of the space shuttle,” Chilton said. “From a common shape to a common home.”

Since the first flight in 2010, the secretive space planes had logged a combined 2,865 days in orbit as of Sunday.

“If you add up all the missions, just under eight years in orbit and 1 billion miles, so a lot of traveling by this machine,” Chilton said during the launch broadcast.

Delayed a day by bad weather, this marked just the second rocket launch for the newly established Space Force. In March, it hoisted a national security satellite.

United Launch Alliance, which provided the Atlas V rocket, declared success 1 1/2 hours after liftoff. It dedicated Sunday’s launch to the health care workers and others who are working on the front lines of the pandemic.

The company said it followed health advice for the launch. Many of the flight controllers wore masks and were spread out.

Precautions were less evident along area causeways, where spectators parked to watch the Atlas soar. Thick, low clouds spoiled the show.

The Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has an exceptionally fast turnaround for its next launch.

Before dawn Tuesday, SpaceX will attempt to launch another batch of its Starlink satellites for global internet service. It will be SpaceX’s last flight before its first astronaut launch, scheduled for May 27 from next-door Kennedy Space Center.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

 

This article was written by MARCIA DUNN from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Comments

comments

Online Degrees & Certificates In Cybersecurity

American Military University's online cybersecurity programs integrate multiple disciplines to ensure you gain the critical skills and management practices needed to effectively lead cybersecurity missions – from government or private industry. Learn from the leader. American Military University is part of American Public University System, which has been designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

Request Information

Please complete this form and we’ll contact you with more information about AMU. All fields except phone are required.

Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Ready to apply? Start your application today.

We value your privacy.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails, texts, and phone calls and messages from American Public University System, Inc. which includes American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), its affiliates, and representatives. I understand that this consent is not a condition of enrollment or purchase.

You may withdraw your consent at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy, terms, or contact us for more details.