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Mysterious space plane set for new mission

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Jennie McGrath
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« on: May 23, 2015, 07:02:38 pm »

Mysterious space plane set for new mission
Posted on Monday, 18 May, 2015 | Comment icon 15 comments



It isn't clear what the X-37B's new mission will be when it launches this week. Image Credit: NASA

The X-37B will be launching again on Wednesday however nobody knows exactly what it will be doing.

The solar-powered space plane, which looks a lot like a miniature version of NASA's space shuttles, had been originally designed to repair satellites before NASA discontinued the project and passed it over to the US Department of Defense back in 2004.

The United States Air Force now possesses two X-37B's which have conducted a total of three missions between them, some lasting several years thanks to their ability to stay in orbit for long periods of time without needed to be refueled.

The details of this latest mission, which is set to launch within a couple of days, are once again mostly classified, leading to speculation over what the X-37B could possibly be up to.

Some of the experiments it will be carrying however have been revealed including the testing of a new ion engine and NASA's Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS) experiment which aims to see how exposure to space affects a selection of different materials.

It isn't clear how long the mission will last but given that the duration of the previous one exceeded two years its quite possible that the X-37B won't be returning to terra firma again any time soon.

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Source: Discovery News


http://news.discovery.com/space/private-spaceflight/robotic-space-plane-launches-in-mystery-mission-this-week-150518.htm
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