NASA Space Plane Preparing to Launch

NASA space plane preparing to launch on Wednesday, May 20. The mysterious United States Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane will carry a NASA attempt to orbit when it begins its next mission. It's not clear when the plane will return. The X-37B, built by Boeing, is a miniature version of NASA's retired space shuttle. Boeing X-37B operates two of the robotic space planes. They weigh 11,000 pounds at launch and measure about 29 feet long and more than 9 feet tall, with nearly 15-foot wingspans. X-37B launched for the first time in 2010, and its latest mission ended in October after 674 days.

US governments have remained secret about the space plane's exact purpose. In addition, the plane will test a new type of fuel-efficient thruster that depends on electrically charged propellant. The thruster could prove advantageous in future for maneuvering satellites that need to make minor orbital corrections. The NASA payload aims to test how the space environment affects certain materials. The satellite, and a second version expected to launch next year, will demonstrate navigating a spacecraft using only the sun's radiation, or solar wind

Watch some great photos of X-37B space plane:

NASA's Space Plane Preparing to Launch

NASA's Space Plane Preparing to Launch

NASA's Space Plane Preparing to Launch

NASA's Space Plane Preparing to Launch

NASA's Space Plane Preparing to Launch

NASA's Space Plane Preparing to Launch

NASA's Space Plane Preparing to Launch

NASA's Space Plane Preparing to Launch

NASA's Space Plane Preparing to Launch

NASA's Space Plane Preparing to Launch

By the way, be sure you've already seen how All saturn V launches at once!

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