A secret military spacecraft is preparing to launch to space for various experiments. The Boeing X-37B is uncrewed and it will lift off from the Cape Canaveral air force station on May 16. The spacecraft will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and could remain in space – out of sight and out of mind – for many years.
The X-37B military spaceplane had been to space five times before, and this coming launch will be its sixth trip to space. At its fifth mission, it spent 780 days in space and only returned to Earth in October 2019. With this current launch, it will be managed by the newly created US Space Force. A service module is designed to be fitted with the craft so that more experiments can be performed in space.
The military spaceplane will perform secret and classified missions in space, as well as two NASA experiments pertaining to the result of radiation and effects of space on the germination of seeds. The mission will also include a naval research lab study to convert solar energy into radio waves which should be transmissible to the ground.
“I think the most interesting part is how secret it is,” said Carter Palmer, space systems analyst at Newtown, Connecticut -based Forecast International. “What they’re trying to do is anyone’s guess.”
A FalconSat-8 satellite with several payloads of experiments created by the US Air Force Academy will also be executed on the mission. The X-37B military spaceplane has a wingspan of 4.55 meters and measures 8.9 meters.