X-37B is a classified programme and very little is known about it. The aircraft resembles a smaller version of the manned space shuttles that were retired by the United States space programme in 2011.
This was the 84th flight of the Atlas 5 since it entered service in 2002. "We learn a lot about the value of reusability and autonomy", said Raymond.
"It's a classified mission, and what is classified about it as the details of the vehicle itself, the mission it will do on orbit and where it will do that", he said. There has not been much information provided by the U.S. government or by the authorities in the past.
It's the sixth flight of an X-37B, a solar-powered plane that's flown by remote control without a crew.
Raymond called the module "a trailer ... behind the truck that provides added capacity for experiments", but didn't want to elaborate on the size of the module or how the X-37 was modified to incorporate that upgrade. For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered. Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the X-37B program performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.
One of the experiments will test the effect of radiation on seeds and other materials, according to AFP.
Encapsulated X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. Some space researchers believe that the vehicle was used to launch three cubesats that were not registered in global tracking databases.
"It suggests that the X-37B may have a mission to serve as a covert satellite deployment platform". And we know that that drives them nuts.
This launch was rescheduled from Saturday, due to poor weather conditions, and its delay means that the SpaceX Starlink mission that was scheduled to take off from Kennedy in Florida today is now pushed out to Tuesday, due to a tropical storm that looks to be developing on Monday at its original backup date.
Delayed a day by bad weather, Sunday's launch was the second one for the newly established Space Force.