Tuesday, 18 June 2024
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The US military’s X-37B spacecraft takes flight on a covert mission

  • Launched on a covert mission that should last at least a few years, the US military’s X-37B spacecraft has taken off.
  • The spacecraft launched overnight atop SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
  • The launch of the X-37B takes place concurrently with China’s Shenlong mission.

Launched on a covert mission that should last at least a few years, the US military’s X-37B spacecraft has taken off. Due to technical difficulties, the spacecraft launched overnight atop SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center more than two weeks later than scheduled.

Classified experiments will be carried out on the reusable aircraft, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, just like in prior trips. It’s going to be an autonomous mission.

X-37B spacecraft

The X-37B spacecraft, intended for extended orbital flights and space domain awareness technology, has been launched by the U.S. Space Force. The first-ever use of the Falcon Heavy rocket suggests that higher orbital trips beyond its low-Earth orbit are possible.

Like an airplane, the spaceship is capable of autonomously landing on runways. The current mission, the details of which are unknown, is anticipated to continue in the same manner as earlier, longer trips, potentially lasting until June 2026.

This mission highlights the strategic significance of space in both scientific research and national security, and it symbolizes significant advancements in reusable space technologies.

The launch of the X-37B takes place concurrently with China’s Shenlong mission, which is limited to low-Earth orbit deliveries and is the third mission since 2020.

These missions’ timing is indicative of the burgeoning space competition between China and the United States since both countries have demonstrated a strong interest in one another’s spaceplane technologies.

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