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US Air Force’s X-37B Spy Spacecraft Lands After 780 Days In Orbit On Classified Mission

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US Air Force's X-37B Spy Spacecraft Lands After 780 Days In Orbit On Classified Mission

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The US Air Force’s autonomous X-37B space spy plane landed on October 27th, after a 780-day long mission in Earth’s orbit.

The X-37B’s Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5) mission ended with a smooth autonomous touchdown at the Shuttle Landing Facility of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 3:51 a.m. EDT (0751 GMT), Air Force officials said. The mission launched on September 7th, 2017, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on-board a Space X Falcon 9 booster, and the Air Force is preparing to launch the sixth X-37B mission from CCAFS in 2020.

“The X-37B continues to demonstrate the importance of a reusable spaceplane,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett. “Each successive mission advances our nation’s space capabilities.”

The space plane is the US Air Force’s premiere reusable and autonomous spacecraft.

“The safe return of this spacecraft, after breaking its own endurance record, is the result of the innovative partnership between government and industry,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “The sky is no longer the limit for the Air Force and, if Congress approves, the U.S. Space Force.”

This was the second time the X-37B landed at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility — Mission 4 landed after 718 days in orbit. This is impressive since the space plane was designed to remain in orbit for a duration of 270 days.

“Today marks an incredibly exciting day for the 45th Space Wing,” said Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess, 45th Space Wing commander. “Our team has been preparing for this event, and I am extremely proud to see their hard work and dedication culminate in today’s safe and successful landing of the X-37B.”

It is unclear what exactly the X-37B did while in orbit, US Air Force officials maintain that the missions are classified.

One payload was the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, an experiment designed to “test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long-duration space environment,” according to an Air Force statement.

US Air Force's X-37B Spy Spacecraft Lands After 780 Days In Orbit On Classified Mission

Click to see full-size

The space plane also flew at a higher-inclination orbit than the previous flights, which potentially means that it had new experiments and technology tests to carry out.  Air Force officials confirmed that the X-37B carried multiple experiments and carried smaller satellites into orbit.

“This program continues to push the envelope as the world’s only reusable space vehicle. With a successful landing today, the X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully completed all mission objectives,” said Randy Walden, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director. “This mission successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites.”

Skywatcher Ralf Vandebergh from the Netherlands, took a photograph of the X-37B, it is a smaller version of NASA’s Space Shuttle orbiter.

“The OTV [Orbital Test Vehicle] is a small version of the classic Space Shuttle, it is really a small object, even at only 300 km altitude, so don’t expect the detail level of ground based images of the real Space Shuttle.”

The statements regarding the X-37B’s mission are interesting, since the US Air Force said it delivered small satellites to orbit, but that the move wasn’t reported to the Un Registration convention.

Jonathan McDowell is an astronomer at Harvard and space tracking expert and he argued that the deployment of the small satellites violated the UN’s Registration Convention — which requires countries to tell the UN exactly what they’re sending into space. There’s really no clarity whether the satellites remain in orbit or not.

US Air Force's X-37B Spy Spacecraft Lands After 780 Days In Orbit On Classified Mission

Click to see full-size image

US Air Force's X-37B Spy Spacecraft Lands After 780 Days In Orbit On Classified Mission

Click to see full-size image

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Assad must stay (gr8rambino)

I hope and look forward to Russia telling us what its purpose was

Toronto Tonto

They DO have stories for everthing don’t they , A dozen or so just on MH17 remember .

JoeAlpha

Wow .. I’m not sure why you hate Russia so much. Have the Russians killed 100 of your ancestors in the past? If they did, that would be great fun.

Barba_Papa

He’s just a troll. And not a funny one to boot. Do not feed the troll by giving them a moment of your awesomeness.

Gary Sellars

He sold his arse to a gay Russian Mardi-Gra float and they didn’t pay him the agreed rate.

Toronto Tonto

Ya I know Russia has better modern stuff right .

grumpy_carpenter

Look at the drawing, bottom left, just above “Atlas Booster” it says RD-180 engines. Those are Russian. That bird doesn’t get off the ground without Russian tech.

Tudor Miron

Yes, and Nudol will take care of it if it starts acting silly on the orbit.

Assad must stay (gr8rambino)

what is Nudol?

Tudor Miron

One of later Russian missile systems. Intended for anti missile defense and capable of engaging targets on Earth orbit.

Assad must stay (gr8rambino)

Thinks mister Tudor :)

Gary Sellars

Mobile ASAT/ABM missile in final testing stages.

Assad must stay (gr8rambino)

Thanks mister Gary :)

Jens Holm

Most advanced things in the whole world is like that now.

Your computer, car or android is same thing. You take the best or the best top the price and combine it with other best or best of the price.

Its well known, there are about 3 examples for rocket models are able to go into orbit or space. THe Russian one in the best and even the less complicated and cheepest.

MeMad Max

If there was no RD-180 engines then….

… something else would have been used…. Just because they used those engines doesnt really mean much….

grumpy_carpenter

The USA has been trying desperately to replace the RD – 180 since Russia’s Crimea repatriation in 2014. The USA sanctioned them once in 2014 only to lift the sanction in 2015 due to a lack of other alternatives.

In Aug 2014 the pentagon issued an RFI for proposals to create a domestic rocket engine. Blue Origin responded with a proposal but to date they still haven’t come up with a replacement.

So I take you at your word that “something else would have been used” and that the USA is technically superior to every nation on earth however to date, for whatever reason the RD-180 is the USA’s only choice for the Atlas V …. maybe it’s time to start a war with North Korea or Iran so you can “liberate” a few of their rocket scientists to replace Werner Von braun.

On a side note today in the news it was announced that the Danes just issued permits for the Nordstream 2 pipeline despite threats from the USA to sanction everyone who touched the project.

IMHO

Another taxpayer funded project used for their own surveillance and control.

Jens Holm

Its decided by the Taxpayers as well, and they can effort it, because they go so school, educate, the ones with skiils doing a good jobs and they are paid by hard work pr effective hour and not family relations only.

True, its mainlæy for themselves. They do it. Why should they reward any like You.

Concrete Mike

Hahahaha its decided by tax payers, hahahahahahahaha fucken baloney!

Nothing is decided by the regular taxpayer. Perhaps billionairea, but not you and me, come on Jens.

Jens Holm

Thats not correct. I agree with many others and we vote and gets our % of influence.

IMHO

You need to learn to spell and write a proper sentence. What do you mean “they can effort it” and “reward any like You.”? It sounds like you are being sarcastic but I really can’t make clear sense of it. Surely you don’t believe that family relations, status and friendships have nothing to do with our politics, expenditures and social engineering.

Jens Holm

You dont decide if those sentences are proper or not. I decide if normal people are able to understand the short version or not. They normally are.

I am not sarcastic. I tell, that when people work hard and make a lot of money, its their prioroty, what they spend it for. They and we cant plunder people hardly producing anything. WE make it.

“Reward” is my private oppinion. We hardly have any friends in ME. Why be there at all and fx arm some and some not. DEvellopments there is same thing. People there deny themselves to devellop. They use, what we install for and after there oil is only for lamps again.

Thats ok, but we only should be there for, what we need. Even ISIS sold oil to anybody, so why bother about treatings of each other there at all.

Reward in ME are renting people only. Most are not to trust at all. When we stop they hostage us and suddenly are our enemies.

That goes for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Libya a.s.o. You also by Your systems have overwhelming many muslims as refugees and world record according religion.

And if people leave You only care for the ones, where You need revenge to regain socalled respect and honeur.

You even send secret police fx to Denmark, to attack and control Turks, which has been living here for 30 years or more. By that Your kind has closed Gülen schools. Pupils has not been in those schools because of Gülen, but thats the only possibility to be well cinnectd by language, reading and writing.

Most pupils there was not Gåulens at all. But its good for Denmark, because those now has to become danes. So thank You Erdogan or what.

IMHO

You make absolutely no sense in English. You keep saying “You” and “Your” and seem to be railing against U.S. actions, or praising them, so I guess “You” and “Your” refers to the United States. You surely are not talking about me in any case. When it is obvious by my first comment that I am at odds with government actions.
And I don’t see what any of it has to do with the spy spacecraft in this article.

Jens Holm

It looks loke a vakkum cleaner. I hope they will clean the satelite orbit with it:)

Space is more and more like Syria and Iraq. None has to look for metals and plastic at the moon or on mars but recycle anything there apart from corpses.

Much of space is like Syria and Iraq having big deserts and steppe. Once many people lived there, but they had to leave, because the graves filled up the landscape, and there was no water for the flowers on the graves as well.

Gary Sellars

Whatever these bastards are up to, it won’t be good. Pentagram caballists have the worst of intentions.

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