It is reported by The Register that the US Air Force has relaunched the first of its super-secret X-37B space planes, the OTV-1, sending it on another mysterious mission in space. OTV-1's first mission was back in 2010.
US Secret space plane X37B OVT-1 [Photo: Raumfahrt]
The experimental unmanned spaceship headed off from Cape Canaveral yesterday, just a few months after the second X-37B, OTV-2, made an autonomous landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The OTV-2 touched down on 11 June, after a record 469 days in space.
The Air Force never reveals the exact purpose of each mission of these little reusable space vehicles, only saying that in general they run experiments on the craft that can then be returned to Earth. These include projects in advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics, high temperature structures and seals, conformal reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems and autonomous orbital flight, re-entry and landing.
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