SpaceX successfully launches mysterious X-37B spaceplane and recovers first stage

SpaceX launches Air Force's super-secret minishuttle

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane into orbit from NASA's Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on September 7, 2017.

Live images broadcast by the California aerospace company showed a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the unmanned X-37B drone lifting off at 10:00 am (1400 GMT) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. It has also said that the X-37B Orbital has a wingspan of 14 feet, 11 inches, is almost 30 feet long, and weighs 11,000 pounds.

The last mission lasted nearly two years and ended with a May touchdown at the runway formerly used by Nasa's space shuttles. The previous missions relied on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets.

In total, the vehicle has more than 2,000 days in space. We also don't know how long the X-37B will stay in orbit, although its last mission was almost two years in length (270 days to be exact).

X-37B flights typically last for months. The four X-37B missions to date flew in orbits tilted between 38 and 43.5 degrees to the equator, but the next one will reach higher latitudes on each lap around Earth.

North Korea's Nuclear Detonation
Despite our efforts the North Korea nuclear program is more advanced and more risky than ever. However, it appears that Kim Jong Un has forgotten who he's up against.

"The many firsts on this mission make the upcoming OTV launch a milestone for the program", Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said in the same statement, which was issued last week. For comparison, the space shuttles were 122 feet (37 m) long, with 78-foot (24 m) wingspans. The first stage has been readied for a second launch after a successful liftoff and landing in February.

But this week's rocket launch is not what an ordinary SpaceX launch looks like.

"Hurricane Irma is forecast to be approximately 950 miles southeast of the Spaceport during Thursday's launch attempt, so while Irma certainly bears watching, it will not be a factor in Thursday's weather", forecasters said in a Tuesday update, noting that thick and cumulus clouds were the primary concerns.

As has become customary, SpaceX landed its leftover booster back at Cape Canaveral for eventual reuse.

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