Secrets still exist in space exploration. On April 22, 2010, The U.S. Air Force launched a new robotic X-37B space plane, but the space mission has been kept a mystery. The space plane was launched atop an Atlas 5 rocket from a seaside pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
According to an AP source, the craft is reusable, will remain in Earth’s orbit for an unspecified time, and then will auto-pilot down to a landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the X37 project, and the industry team is led by Boeing of Seal Beach, California.
According to NASA, the X-37 measures approximately 27.5 feet long and 15 feet in wingspan. NASA says that it will be a test bed for dozens of advanced structural, propulsion and operational technologies that could dramatically lower the cost of future reusable launch vehicles. The X-37 will operate in both the orbital and reentry phases of flight.
As far as the secrecy is concerned, NASA says feasible duties could include intelligence gathering, kicking off small satellites, testing space gear and the development of reusable space vehicle technologies.
A slideshow with 18 pictures of the blast off and more details concerning the X-37 was posted on foxnews.com on April 22, 2010, under the heading: Secret Space Plane Blasts Off on Maiden Voyage.
Secrecy discussed on youtube video
A commentary was broadcast on Russia Today on 4/22/10 with the subheading: ‘US secret ‘space plane’: X37B starts Star Wars?’. The subhead reads: ‘A secret space plane that has been years in the making is now set to launch into the final frontier. The United States Air Force plans to launch the X37B orbital test vehicle tomorrow, to perform a series of tests. Is this the beginning of the United States going above and beyond in space exploration or the beginning of the militarization of space?’ Commentary is given by Jeff Manber, space entrepreneur.
Photos of the launching
Eight photos were posted 4/23/10 on The Christian Monitor that give viewers an opportunity to see what the launching of the X-37 looked like. Click here to see this slideshow.
This slideshow was included with an article on csmonitor.com entitled: ‘X37b space plane launch: first in Air Force’s busy space year.’
Wikipedia describes the X-37
More detailed information is available on wikipedia.org under the heading: ‘Boeing X-37.’
The contents of the article include the design and development (drop test and Orbital Test Vehicle) and the vehicle’s specifications which includes its loaded weight (11,000 lb), power plant (Rocketdyne rocket engine) and its power (Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells with lithium-ion batteries).
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