Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane heads back to orbit May 16th

Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane heads back to orbit May 16th

While we were only previously given vague hints of what the plane was carrying, the Space Force is more forthright this time around. In its announcement, the military division has revealed that the X-37B’s sixth mission will deploy a small satellite called FalconSat-8 that was developed by the US Air Force Academy.

As Gizmodo notes, the military might be more willing to share information this time around, because the mission objectives aren’t as sensitive: FalconSat-8 is an educational platform that will come with five experimental payloads. The flight will also carry two NASA experiments to study the effects of radiation on seeds and materials used to grow food in space.

Randy Walden, the Director and Program Executive Officer for the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, called the sixth mission a “big step” for the X-37B program. It’s the first time the plane is using a service module to host experiments, and that will allow it to host more experimental payloads going forward.

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