Feeds

Top-secret US spaceplane sets off on another classified mission

First X-37B launches for the second time

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
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.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.