The U.S. Air Force has launched a miniature space plane into orbit almost a year ago. The X-37B has been orbiting for 340 days while it performed covert duties, being part of the program’s fifth flight.
This robotic craft has carried its latest mission with success. On September 7th, 2017, the Orbital Test Vehicle-5, or OTV-5, was officially launched via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.
Of course, being an Air Force mission, we didn’t get many words from the officials. What we do know, however, is that one of the payloads on board of the X-37B is represented by the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, or ASETS-II. This cargo was developed by the US Air Force Research Laboratory and it is in charge of testing the oscillating heat pipes for pre-established, long durations in the void represented by space.
The classified program consists of a fleet made by two reusable spacecrafts which were built by Boeing. This vehicle looks like a miniature of a former space shuttle orbiter which NASA just recently retired. The X-37B measures 29 feet in its length and its wingspan is approximately 15 feet.
Its payload bay has enough space, as you would find on a pickup-truck bed. Also, the bay can incorporate a robotic arm. The plane weighs 11000 pounds and it is powered by gallium-arsenide solar cells and lithium-ion batteries.
We don’t yet know exactly how long will this covert plane will remain aloft. When its mission will be over it will most definitely land at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility, as the previous model, OTV-4 did when it ended its mission on May 7, 2017.
Laura grew up in a small town in northern Quebec. She studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married her husband one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children. Laura is an advocate for people with disabilities.