US Space Force launches mystery space plane from Cape Canaveral

18 Mai, 2020, 12:23 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • US Space Force launches mystery space plane from Cape Canaveral

The Space Force will launch a robotic X-37B space plane on a new secret mission for the U.S. military on Saturday and the new liftoff time is scheduled at 7.43 pm (IST) (1413 GMT) after bad weather prevented a launch try earlier in the day.

Built by Boeing, which also provides mission support, the X-37B has flown on five previous missions, with each progressively longer in duration.

A rocket was used to carry the X-37B, a remotely operated space plane that uses solar power, which will orbit the Earth while carrying experiments into space.

The number of experiments could contribute to an extended trip, but it's not clear how much headroom the X-37B has at this stage. Space and Missiles Systems Center plans to launch seven other missions this year, it said in a news release.

The winged spacecraft resembles NASA's old shuttles, but is considerably smaller at 29 feet long.

"The upcoming OTV-6 mission will mark the seventh mission the U.S. Space Force, and has the designation USSF-7".

The weather is a key concern, with Air Force officials forecasting just a 40 per cent chance of good conditions for launch. Their base of operations is a former space shuttle hangar at Kennedy.

X-37B after landing at the Space Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in 2017
X-37B after landing at the Space Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in 2017

The drone, which resembles a smaller version of the manned space shuttles retired by the USA space program in 2011, was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the Air Force said. This first X-37B flight under the Space Force comes with a new window to parts of the mission.

Since the first flight in 2010, the secret space planes had recorded a combined orbit of 2,865 days until Sunday.

The mission was dedicated to frontline workers and corona warriors.

The company said it followed the health advice for the launch.

The launch was held following protocols because of tight restrictions on access to the Air Force station because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before dawn on Monday, SpaceX will attempt to launch another batch of its Starlink satellites for global internet service.

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