The Space Force just launched the mysterious X-37B space plane

Pablo Tucker
May 20, 2020

"Therefore we have to stop the live broadcast so that we do not make it easy for adversaries to figure those things out by having that much data about the flight and deployment".

The X-37B runs various missions for the US, though its specific aims are actually classified.

The launch of the U.S. Space Force's secretive X-37B spaceplane atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 configuration rocket remains is scheduled to liftoff at 9:14 a.m. on Sunday, May 17, 2020, from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.


The unmanned space plane is reportedly equipped with a small satellite developed by the Air Force, but its objective remains a secret. The weather is a key concern, with Air Force officials forecasting just a 40 per cent chance of good conditions for launch.

One question that has loomed over the X-37 is whether it has counterspace capabilities and could be used to test offensive technologies.

ULA says it was critical to perform the launch of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, despite the COVID-19 emergency happening around the globe.


This was the 84th flight of the Atlas 5 since it entered service in 2002. The satellite will carry five experimental payloads for the academy, along with two NASA experiments.

Experiments on board are to include studying the effects of space travel on various materials, and the effect of space radiation on seeds. However, the livestream cut out afterwards due to the extreme secrecy surrounding the capabilities of the X-37B, said ULA chief executive officer Tory Bruno. A U.S. Naval Research Laboratory experiment will test the use of microwave beams to send solar power to Earth from space. "We learn a lot about the value of reusability and autonomy", said Raymond.

Its last flight ended in October 2019, after 780 days in orbit. But it could be a while before the X-37 descends from orbit to end its mission with a runway landing.


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