Watch SpaceX launch a secret military space plane to orbit

Watch SpaceX launch a secret military space plane to orbit

Burning a super-chilled mixture of kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants, the 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 launcher ignited nine Merlin 1D engines and climbed away from launch pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) Thursday.

OTV-5 culminated with the successful landing of Booster 1040.

Musk's company released a timeline for the mission.

But the landing was a secondary objective. What exactly the unmanned ship, referred to as the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, has been tasked to accomplish is unclear.

The Air Force is known to possess two X-37Bs, both of which were built by Boeing.

The X-37B, which looks somewhat like a miniature version of the retired Space Shuttle, has a wingspan of just under 15 feet and weighs around 11,000 pounds.

SpaceX has been valued at $21bn (£16bn), making it one of the most valuable privately owned companies in the world. That plane orbited the earth for 718 days before landing in May 2017.

Huawei overtakes Apple in global smartphone market for the first time
Rumors suggest that the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro will be sporting large 6-inch-plus full-screen displays. The clean back of the phone is dominated by the dual cameras, with the flash and sensors module on the sides.

This will be the fifth flight of the X-37B, but the details of the mission are unclear. This secrecy has spawned some speculation that the vehicle may be a space weapon of some sort. This particular vehicle has spent at least 2,000 days in orbit.

One such OTV-5 experiment that has been divulged is the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader payload, which will "test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long-duration space environment", according to an Air Force statement.

This is the first time SpaceX has provided a lift for the experimental mini-shuttle.

Previous X-37B launches had been performed by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The autonomous space craft, blandly called the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, is meant to "demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space-test platform".

Officials at neighboring Patrick Air Force Base said Tuesday that the 45th Space Wing had begun their hurricane preparations sooner than usual so that they could still support today's launch attempt.

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