Monday, May 18, 2015

Fourth X-37B Spaceplane To Launch With An Advanced NASA Materials Science Experiment

The planned May 20 fourth launch of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V rocket with a Boeing/U.S. Air Force X-37B spaceplane comes as the Air Force is shifting to more military spaceplane payload development instead of X-37B flight testing of its own systems.

The upcoming flight is carrying a wide variety of military technology payloads including secret payload bay sensors like optics, but its manifest also includes an Air Force xenon thruster important to spacecraft longevity in geosynchronous orbit, along with three small U.S. Naval Academy satellites and two small Aerospace Corp. satellites demonstrating military technologies and several more secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) spacecraft.

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