A global team of vigilant satellite watchers has caught the U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane on camera as the craft circles Earth on its fourth mysterious mission.
A heated battle that spread to federal courtrooms and the U.S. Congress ended on Tuesday with the U.S. Air Force clearing Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX to fly military and national security satellites.
The unmanned X-37B spacecraft is scheduled to blast off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, during a four-hour launch window that opens at 10:45 a.m. EDT.
The U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane blasted into Earth orbit today, kicking off the robotic vehicle's clandestine fourth mission — as well as the first flight of a tiny solar-sailing spacecraft.
The Air Force has revealed that it is collaborating with two organizations to evaluate experiments carried on the space plane's upcoming mission.
Most of the X-37B's payloads and specific activities are classified, so it's not entirely clear what the space plane will be doing once it leaves Earth Wednesday.
New research suggests a plasma bubble in the high atmosphere blocked radio communications during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan, which lead to a deadly US helicopter ambush.
The United States military's high-technology branch is hoping to test out on-orbit satellite servicing in orbit in the next five years.
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