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SpaceX Just Launched a Mysterious Space Plane Right Before a Monster Hurricane


Today, SpaceX successfully launched one of its most important (and classified) payloads to date: the U.S. Air Force's Boeing X-37B spy plane.

X-37B has been launched into orbit four times since 2010, accumulating a total of 2,085 days in space.

Previous X-37B launches had been performed by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Details about the spacecraft's mission are under lock and key, but we know it previously returned to Earth in May following a two-year trip in orbit.

This will be the fifth launch of the X-37B.

"The fifth OTV mission continues to advance the X-37B's performance and flexibility as a space technology demonstrator and host platform for experimental payloads", the Air Force said in a statement. "This mission carries small satellite ride shares and will demonstrate greater opportunities for rapid space access and on-orbit testing of emerging space technologies".


The X-37B, which looks somewhat like a miniature version of the retired Space Shuttle, has a wingspan of just under 15 feet and weighs around 11,000 pounds. Heat pipes can be used on satellites to help regulate their temperature in space.

Artist's concept of the X-37B spaceplane in orbit. X-37B's fourth mission set an endurance record, racking up 718 days in orbit before landing in early May at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Even though KSC officials confirmed that some of SpaceX's facilities - particularly the integration facility that holds Falcon Heavy cores - were created to cope with winds as high as 150 mph, Irma has consistently generated winds of 180+ mph over the last 48 hours.

A communications satellite for SES and EchoStar is scheduled to fly into geostationary orbit no earlier than October 2 from pad 39A aboard a previously-flown Falcon 9 booster.

OTV-5 culminated with the successful landing of Booster 1040.

According to the forecast by the Patrick #Air Force Base, Irma is expected to reach the area about 900 miles near the launch site during the scheduled take-off.

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