U.S. Army Continues Research reusable space flight technology with the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV). On Wednesday, the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, in partnership with the US Space Force, announced plans for a new flight. The U.S. Air Force plans to launch the sixth mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6) on May 16 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
“Demonstrating the innovation of the department, this X-37B mission will welcome more experiences than all the previous missions. This launch also demonstrates the collaboration of the Ministry which pushes the limits of reusable space systemsSaid Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett.
For the upcoming launch, the X-37B has been modernized by installing a service module attached to the rear of the vehicle. This will allow the drone to carry additional experimental payload capacity to be carried into orbit.
Among other things, with the help of the X-37B, NASA scientists plan to study the results of radiation and other spatial effects on a sample plate of materials and seeds used to grow food. Another experiment developed by the American Naval Research Laboratory “will transform solar energy into microwave radio frequency energy which could then be transmitted to the ground”.
In addition to NASA’s tasks, OTV-6 will be used for the needs of the military. In particular, it will put a small FalconSat-8 Satellite in orbit. The development of the US Air Force Academy will allow several cadets to conduct orbit experiments. U.S. Air Force officials have stressed that the satellite will carry five experimental payloads for the USAFA, details of which are not yet known.
Work on the X-37 spacecraft began in 1999 with the joint efforts of Boeing and NASA, which planned to create two spatialship – for orbital and atmospheric tests. But due to a lack of funding in 2004, the project was turned over to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Already in 2006, representatives of the US Air Force discussed the development of the X-37B OTV “orbital” project.
Despite the fact that the stated objectives of the program are fairly peaceful, experts suggest that the X-37B can be used to counter enemy satellites. Currently, two OTV flight models have been created, which have flown five times. The X-37B program completed its fifth mission in October 2019, landing after 780 days in orbit, bringing the total number of days in orbit for the spacecraft to 2,865 – seven years and ten months.
The take-off weight of the X-37B is 4.98 tonnes, 8.8 meters long, 2.9 meters high and the wingspan reaches 4.5 meters. In low Earth orbit, the speed of the aircraft can reach 28,044 km / h (17,426 mph). The spacecraft is equipped with the Aerojet AR2-3 engine using storable thrusters, providing a thrust of 6,600 pound-force (29.4 kN).