U.S. Air Force’s Clandestine X-37B Military Space Plane Marks 200 Days In Orbit

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from Zero Hedge:

Known as Orbital Test Vehicle-5 (OTV-5), the latest mission began September 7, 2017 after it was launched into space atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

According to Air Force officials, one payload flying on OTV-5 is the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, or ASETS-11, of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). This cargo is testing experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipes for long durations in the space environment. -space.com

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The Air Force has not disclosed how long the unpiloted, reusable craft will remain in orbit, however experts have said it’s likely to land at the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility, where the OTV-4 mission landed on May 7, 2007 – a first for the program, as previous missions all ended with a tarmac touchdown at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The X-37B has been and remains a technology demonstrator,” said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor in the National Security Affairs Department at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

“Given that most space technology is dual-use, with the ever-increasing sway toward warfare in space, it’s likely that the more militaristic uses of the space plane will be pursued more vigorously, and likely openly given the [presidential] administration’s proclivity toward chest thumping,” Johnson-Freese told Space.com.

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