For the fourth time the US Air Force X-37B space plane has gone up to space, a sort of mini-space shuttle but smaller, which will be used as a platform to test new military technologies on orbit. During this mission a new kind of motor will be checked, which will be needed to change the satellites’ trajectories. The last X-37B mission ended on October 17th, 2014, after 674 days in orbit. Some experts have declared that the space plane would be a spy plane or even be used in the future as a “space bomber”, able to go up to space before hitting the Earth.
The development of the X-37B began in November 2006 and it is the result of a collaboration between the US Air Force, the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and Boeing, which is the main contractor of the program. This mini-space plane has always been considered the Usaf’s privileged platform to conduct tests on orbit, useful to develop new technologies for the American defense, with potential applications in the fields of the reconnaissance and the supervision. Moreover, it seems that the experts are taking under consideration for the future a bigger version of the mini-space plane, which will be able to carry a crew up to the international space Station.
Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo