The United States’ mini-space shuttle, the X-37B drone, is preparing for the seventh long-duration flight. Like these previous missions, this vehicle will test a very wide variety of experiments and return them to the ground (which is interesting) and will demonstrate many of the new technologies, some of which are very innovative. It will also be used to place one or more small satellites into orbit or recover at least one. Its flight range will also be expanded with new maneuvers.
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Thirteen months after returning to Earth, at the end of its sixth 908-day mission, an X-37B is preparing to return to space for a much longer duration mission, which could exceed 1,000 days. To revolve aroundTo revolve around, Scheduled for December 7, 2023, the spacecraft will be launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket spacexspacex,
A service module that extends the vehicle’s capabilities
This seventh mission, beyond scientific experiments, has a purpose distinct from ” Pushing the limits of the vehicle by operating in new orbital regimes ”, according to Lt. Col. Joseph Fritchen, Program Director. The extended flight capabilities are explained by the operational use of service modules already tested during previous missions. This module hosted various experiments, including a transformationenergyenergy On the study of spatial effects on samples and seeds of solar and secondly microwave energy by radio frequency. New experiments involving exposing seeds and materials to space radiation are planned for the seventh flight.
With the integration of this module, the X-37B becomes a more sensitive, flexible experiment platform capable of remaining in orbit even longer. Improvements in vehicle dynamics and flight envelope will make it possible to discover never before seen trajectories and orbit changes.
A vehicle that contributes to the technological progress of the United States
General B. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations, emphasizes ” Importance of experimental efforts of the mission » The common thread of which may be space radiation and recalls the role of the X-37B « Improving current and future space operations “. These represent the X-37B mission.” The United States Space Force’s commitment to redefining innovation and possibilities in space ,
Record duration in class that raises questions
While early missions of the Experts, although skeptical about its purely military use, are concerned about the surprisingly long duration of its missions. And perhaps therein lies the mystery surrounding the
Two X-37Bs are said to be in service. Between them, they carried out a total of six missions:
- OTV-1, from 22 April to 3 December 2010 (224 days);
- OTV-2, from 5 March 2011 to 16 June 2012 (468 days);
- OTV-3, from 11 December 2012 to 17 October 2014 (674 days);
- OTV-4, from 20 May 2015 to 7 May 2017 (718 days);
- OTV-5, from 7 September 2017 to 27 October 2019 (780 days);
- OTV-6, from May 17, 2020 to November 12, 2022 (908 days).