US Air Force launches secretive space plane

18 Mai, 2020, 19:09 | Auteur: Therese Cote
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"The rocket was originally scheduled to blast off from Space Launch Complex 41 at 8:24 a.m., but a launch weather officer said the odds of the launch happening had decreased to 20 percent because of rain in the area".

The U.S. Air Force on Sunday launched its Atlas V rocket into orbit as part of a secret space mission.

The Air Force for a decade kept the X-37B in a cloak of secrecy but it is now openly showing it off as a symbol of USA space dominance.

Saturday's launch was the second-ever by the U.S. Space Force and the 80th under the National Security Space Launch effort.

The specifics of what the X-37B does in space, however, are classified.

X-37B Spaceplane MissionsThe Air Force's X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Mission 5 successfully landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility Oct. 27, 2019.

After strong ground winds at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida caused the launch mission to be cancelled on Saturday, the Atlas V finally blasted off a day later at 9:14 am Eastern time.

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

Officials aren't saying exactly how long the spacecraft will remain in orbit this time or the objective of the mission.

Jim Chilton, who is senior vice president for X-37B developer Boeing, noted that each mission has been progressively longer for the craft.

The U.S. military traditionally holds back the details of the X-37B's classified test missions, while providing information about experiments included aboard the uncrewed mini-space shuttle.

Sunday's launch was dedicated to health care workers and others on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before dawn Tuesday, SpaceX will attempt to launch another batch of its Starlink satellites for global internet service. Sign up to receive the week's news in space. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters.

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