A really amazing technology.
Photographed: Space Shuttle X-37B of the Secret Robot of the US Air Force
A Dutch skywatcher achieved a rare feat in late June early July 2019. Using a 10-inch-diameter telescope equipped with a camera, Ralf Vandebergh photographed the secret space plane X-37B of the US Air Force in full mission to 210 km from the surface of the Earth. .
"We can recognize a little nose, payload bay and tail of this mini-shuttle, with even a smaller detail sign," Vandebergh said. told Space.com.
Vandebergh had been looking for the robotic spacecraft for months and finally managed to locate it in May 2019, according to Space.com reporter Leonard David. But it took a few more weeks to photograph the robotic shuttle, about 29 feet long.
"When I tried to observe him again [in] In mid-June, he did not meet the planned schedule and trajectory, "Vandebergh told David. It turned out that he had headed for another orbit. Through the network of amateur satellite observers, it was quickly found in orbit and I was able to take some images on June 30 and July 2. . "
Boeing built at least two X-37Bs for the Air Force in the mid-2000s, at an estimated cost of $ 1 billion each. Although it looks like a miniature version of NASA's space shuttle, which was discontinued in 2011, the X-37B is essentially a small reusable and manoeuvrable satellite, offering shorter mission endurance compared to single-use satellites.
The Air Force describes the X-37B as an "orbital test vehicle".
The X-37B launched its first mission on a United Launch Alliance rocket in April 2010. While many satellites could operate in orbit for a decade, the longest mission of the X-37B early 2018 was the fourth , starting May 2015. This lasted 717 days.
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