SpaceX Trying to Launch Air Force's Secret Spaceplane as Hurricane Irma Approaches

08 September, 2017, 00:29 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, built by Boeing is an unmanned spacecraft that has spent up to 700 days orbiting the Earth on previous missions

An unmanned Falcon rocket took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida, on Thursday afternoon to bring the X-37B shuttle into orbit.

SpaceX has launched the US Air Force's super-secret space shuttle, a technology tester capable of spending years in orbit.

SpaceX has conducted their 13th successful launch of 2017 after sending Boeing's X-37B spaceplane into orbit. Safety and mission success were critical in the design of the Falcon 9 rocket. Its fate aboard the Falcon 9 second stage will likely remain unknown until amateur observers begin to catalog and track the vehicle as it orbits the Earth.

Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said the many firsts on this mission make Thursday's launch "a milestone" for the X-37B program.

The X-37B will glide back to Earth for a runway landing to conclude its mission, likely targeting a homecoming at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center, where the OTV-4 mission ended.

The X-37 has hitched previous rides to space on a United Launch Alliance rocket.

But what exactly the X-37B does in orbit is classified - aside from launch and landing dates and minor operational details, the Air Force provides little on the vehicle's objective.

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Though we don't know much about the X-37B's mission specifics, we do know a little bit about where it's going in orbit thanks to SpaceX.

In total, the vehicle has more than 2,000 days in space.

SpaceX launches have become something of a routine over the past year or so, but if you think there's nothing interesting about yet another launch being carried out by Elon Musk's stellar startup, you're dead wrong.

The SES 11/EchoStar 105 spacecraft has been delivered to Cape Canaveral from its Airbus Defense and Space factory in Toulouse, France.

Another Falcon 9 rocket is due for launch October 4 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the third batch of 10 next-generation voice and data relay satellites for Iridium.

At the end of the landing burn in Stage 1, the rocket landed at Cape Canaveral successfully, amid cheers from the team.

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