SpaceX readies rocket to launch secret space mission

Posted September 08, 2017

US aerospace company SpaceX on Thursday launched its Falcon 9 rocket for the USA military, carrying the mysterious X-37B space plane to orbit for its fifth secret mission.

The September 7 launch was SpaceX's first run at sending the X-37B to Earth's perimeter.

The US military claims the unmanned X-37B is furthering "operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies", which could involve recovery of satellites or debris for fix or scrap on Earth. "The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies for America's future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth". A deployable solar panel generates electricity for the mini-shuttle, and it does not rely on hydraulics for its aerosurfaces, unlike NASA's space shuttles, which were limited to missions lasting several weeks. The four or more weeks between launches at LC-39A will hopefully provide SpaceX enough time to deal with whatever complications Hurricane Irma brings, and will also provide plenty of breathing room for the team of engineers working to reactivate launch pad LC-40.

This marks the X-37B's fifth journey into orbit and this time the craft will be carrying several small satellites in addition to testing out experimental technologies, including the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, a new vibrating heat pipe, reports The Verge. The first stage has been readied for a second launch after a successful liftoff and landing in February.

United States threatens North Korea with 'massive military response'
He also appears to show increasing frustration with South Korea for failing to get North Korea to stop the nuclear testing. North Korea conducted a test of a hydrogen bomb on Sunday that can fit on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Another Falcon 9 rocket is due for launch October 4 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the third batch of 10 next-generation voice and data relay satellites for Iridium.

The space plane will also operate in a higher-inclination orbit on the OTV-5 mission than it has during any other mission, Air Force officials said.

There were concerns SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, would be forced to postpone the launch as Hurricane Irma threatens to batter Florida.

As has become customary, SpaceX landed its leftover booster back at Cape Canaveral for eventual reuse.