On Wednesday, the U.S. space force announced its second launch since it became the newest branch of the U.S. military in December: The X-37B space plane will be launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on May 16,media reported. The unmanned spacecraft, which looks like a small space shuttle, has been a secret project of the U.S. Air Force for years.
It is reported that each orbit flight can stay up to two years. This is the first flight of the X-37B under space forces, and it will open a new window for some parts of the mission.
U.S. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, who has been overseeing the development of the X-37B project, said the space plane would deploy a small satellite called the Falcon Sat-8. The satellite will perform several experiments from the U.S. Air Force, NASA and U.S. Navy Research Laboratories. In addition, these experiments will examine the effects of radiation on seeds and how often solar energy can be transmitted to its surface.
Barrett announced the next X-37B mission at a live event hosted by the Space Foundation, which was also present with General John “Jay” Raymond, the head of space operations for the U.S. space force.
“This will be the first time the X-37B has been tested using a service module,” Randy Walden, director of the Air Force’s Office of Rapid Capability, said in a press release.
On Wednesday, Boeing, the Maker of the X-37B, posted a short video on Twitter showing the space plane’s speed.