Feeds

Top-secret US spaceplane sets off on another classified mission

First X-37B launches for the second time

Security for virtualized datacentres

The US Air Force has relaunched the first of its super-secret X-37B spaceplanes, the OTV-1, sending it on another mysterious mission in space. OTV-1's first mission was back in 2010.

X-37B launches from Cape Canaveral

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.

"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," Richard McKinney, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for Space, said in a canned statement.

"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."

OTV-1 spent 224 days in space after launching in April 2010, before getting refurbished for this mission.

"This mission will incorporate the lessons learned during the refurbishment process on OTV-1," X-37B programme manager Lieutenant Colonel Tom McIntyre said. "As the X-37B program is examining the affordability and reusability of space vehicles, validation through testing is vital to the process. We are excited to see how this vehicle performs on a second flight."

The Air Force naturally didn't say how long the OTV-1 would be up there this time round, that depends on "the execution of test objectives" and other factors, but it has an in-orbit shelf life of around nine months. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.