Pentagon's space plane to host experiments
The US military's X-37B space plane is heading back into space in mid-May, and while the Air Force doesn't often say much about the mysterious aircraft, the service's top civilian outlined what it will be doing this time around.
"The Air Force's Rapid Capability Office has combined forces with the Air Force Reserve Research Lab and now the US Space Force to execute a mission that maximizes the X-37B's unique capabilities," Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said during a webcast hosted by the Space Foundation.
"This important mission will host more experiments than any prior X-37B flight, including two NASA experiments," Barrett added. "One is a sample plate evaluating the reaction of select significant materials to the conditions in space. The second studies the effect of ambient space radiation on seeds. A third experiment, designed by the Naval Research Laboratory, transforms solar power into radio frequency microwave energy, then studies transmitting that energy to earth," Business Insider cited her as saying.
The sample plate and seeds experiments are for NASA, the Air Force said in a statement Wednesday, adding that the mission will deploy the FalconSat-8, a small satellite developed by the US Air Force Academy and sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory, in order to conduct several experiments while in orbit.
The space craft, known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, will launch from Cape Canaveral on May 16, Barrett said, adding that the Space Force was dedicating this flight to "first responders and front-line professionals."