The U.S. Air Force’s unmanned X-37B launched into space for the fourth time this week. The extreme secrecy veiling all three previous missions have triggered plenty of conspiracy theories. But this time the government is lifting the veil a bit.
The Air Force currently has two of the X-37B planes that have gone on three missions for a duration of 1,367 days in space. The last mission ended after 674 days in orbit last October. What the space planes were doing is a mystery.
Prior to launch, DOD officials actually revealed two
of the experiments onboard. They will test a new orbital thruster system that could be used to maneuver satellites in space. NASA also announced the space plane will carry over 100 different materials to test how they hold up in space. The Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS) project will gather data for materials that could be used in future probes, telescopes, and space craft.
The rest of its mission is classified.
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