SpaceX launches top-secret space shuttle before Irma reaches Florida

08 September, 2017, 00:38 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • SpaceX preparing for launch of mini spy space shuttle for US Air Force despite Hurricane Irma warning

As The Verge notes, Hurricane Irma will be about 900 miles from Kennedy Space Center at the time of launch, so while it's very unlikely that the storm will directly impact the launch, it could cause unfavorable weather conditions and possibly, a delay.

Following guidelines set by the Air Force, SpaceX ended live commentary on the progress of the second stage's flight less than three minutes after liftoff.

As has become customary, SpaceX landed its leftover booster back at Cape Canaveral for eventual reuse.

Yes, you read that correctly; this marked SpaceX's 16 overall successful landing of the Falcon 9 (and the seventh on terra firma).

The launch window is from 9:50 a.m. until 2:55 p.m.

The U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane fleet has begun its fifth secret flight with the launch of the OTV-5 mission on September 7, 2017.

NATO wants pressure ramped up on North Korea
Meanwhile, hundreds of local residents and activists are gathered near the US base protesting the deployment. North Korea says it detonated a hydrogen bomb in its sixth nuclear test on Sunday.

Previous X-37B launches had been performed by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Some 29 feet long (nine meters) and 15 feet (4.5 meters) wide, it resembles the space shuttle, the last of which flew in July 2011. The main goal today was getting the reusable X-37B - also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) - into orbit.

USAF officials said they want to use a variety of rockets for the X-37B programme to launch quickly if warranted. The X-37B is going to a higher inclination orbit than usual but the X-37B's main mission is classified and is being fiercely guarded. "This mission carries small satellite ride shares and will demonstrate greater opportunities for rapid space access and on-orbit testing of emerging space technologies".

The Air Force hasn't yet disclosed when the X-37B will come back to Earth.

SpaceX can add another first to its ever-increasing list: On Thursday, it successfully launched an the U.S. Air Force's X-37B experimental spaceplane for the first time.

What exactly the X-37B does up in space is classified military information, although for this flight, it will carry an experiment called the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader (ASETS-II) in its pickup-bed-sized payload bay. Heat pipes can be used on satellites to help regulate their temperature in space. DARPA transferred it to the Air Force in 2006. "It is our goal to continue advancing the X-37B OTV so it can more fully support the growing space community".

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