Archive for the ‘Space’ Category
Let’s hope it’s up to all sorts of no good.
In the next installment to improve space capability and further develop an affordable, reusable space vehicle, the Air Force conducted its third X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle launch here on December 11, officials said.
The launch comes on the heels of the successful flight of OTV-2, which made an autonomous landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., June 11 after a record 469 days in space.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the strides we’ve made in this program and the success of the X-37B vehicle on the first two flights,” said Mr. Richard McKinney, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space. “However, it is important to keep in mind that this is an experimental vehicle and a third mission is still relatively young for a test program. This is the first re-flight of a vehicle so that is certainly a key objective for us. We have only just begun what is a very systematic checkout of the system.”
It was the second launch of a Dragon capsule to the orbiting lab by the California-based SpaceX company. The first was last spring.
This time was no test flight, however, and the spacecraft carried 1,000 pounds of key science experiments and other precious gear on this truly operational mission. There was also a personal touch: chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream tucked in a freezer for the three station residents.
A new space age is dawning.
A secretive unmanned space plane is now in orbit for 270 days – and plans are to keep it up there a bit longer.
The experimental Air Force craft, known as the Orbital Test Vehicle-2, has been circling the Earth for about nine months. The X-37B orbital test vehicle was due to land in California this week, but the Air Force said Tuesday that the mission will be extended. A landing date has not been set.
It was launched on March 5th. Let’s hope it’s doing all sorts of sneaky stuff.
Besides the shuttle, there are currently two Soyuz and two Progress vehicles docked. The vehicle nose-down in this photo is Soyuz TMA-21 which brought three Expedition 28 crew members to the ISS. It will depart in September. At the extreme left of the station, you can see a solar panel and the tail end of Progress M-11M (Progress 43 to NASA).