America’s top secret spacecraft mission has ended after 6 months

The sixth mission of America's secretive X-37B space plane, setting several records, finally ended after 6 months.

BingMag.com America’s top secret spacecraft mission has ended after 6 months

The sixth mission of America's secretive X-37B space plane, setting several records, finally ended after 6 months.

Aircraft The robotic X-37B landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 12 at 5:22 am EST (13:52 Tehran time). Thus, with 908 days in the earth's orbit, it has been in space for four months more than any of its previous flights. The X-37B test was carried by the US Space Force. "With the addition of the service module, this was the X-37B's most complex orbital mission, and we are pleased to bring this new capability and flexibility to the government and its industrial partners," said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing's space and launch division. We proved it."

The X-37B is similar to NASA's retired space shuttle, but much smaller, measuring only 8.8 meters from nose to tail. This is despite the fact that the space shuttle was 37 meters long and instead of intelligent systems, it was controlled by a pilot. Made by Boeing. To date, the two vehicles have completed six orbital missions, designated OTV for Orbital Test Vehicle:

  • OTV-1: on April 22, 2010 Launched and landed on December 3, 2010 (224 days).
  • OTV-2: from March 5, 2011 to June 16, 2012 (468 days).
  • OTV-3: from 11 December 2012 to October 17, 2014 (674 days).
  • OTV-4: from May 20, 2015 to May 7, 2015 (718 days).
  • OTV-5: from September 7, 2017 Until October 27, 2019 (780 days).
  • OTV-6: From May 17, 2020 to November 12, 2022 (908 days).
BingMag.com America’s top secret spacecraft mission has ended after 6 months

Graphic design of X37B in Earth orbit
Credit: Boeing/NASA

The US Space Force and Boeing describe the X-37B primarily as a test platform. This vehicle allows researchers to evaluate the performance of payloads in orbit as well as after landing on Earth. Referring to this trend, Chilton said: "Since its first launch in 2010, the X-37B has broken records and provided an unparalleled ability to rapidly test and deploy new space technologies."

Many of these payloads Like most X-37B activities, they are classified and confidential. For example, the details of the orbit and the end of each OTV mission are not known. But US military officials have disclosed information about some of the X-37B's hardware.

Including the "photovoltaic radio frequency antenna module" it tested for the US Naval Research Laboratory. This device, the size of a pizza box, is designed to convert solar energy into microwaves and send it to Earth. A technology that could bring space-based solar energy closer to reality.

OTV-6 also launched the FalconSat-8, designed by students of the United States Air Force Academy and consisting of five The test shipment will be carried with you. This satellite, which was deployed in October 2021, still remains in its orbit.

OTV-6 also performed several well-known NASA experiments, including the study of the effect of space radiation on grains. plants and how different materials react to the space environment.

General Chance Saltzman, head of space operations of the US Space Force, said about the goals of the X-37B program: "This mission is actually the focus of the space force. It demonstrates cooperation in space exploration and the development of low-cost access to space for our partners." . For example, some earth observation satellites and communication satellites continue to operate in the earth's orbit for a decade or more. Also, the International Space Station has been continuously hosting astronauts since November 2000, and NASA's Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes are still active in the interstellar space more than 45 years after the start of their journey.

Cover photo: space plane X-37B Credit: Boeing/US Space Force

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