Buzz, Elon Musk, Military, Science, Space, Spacex

SpaceX just launched a secret space plane to orbit for the Air Force

The Elon Musk-founded company SpaceX just launched a secret mission for the U.S. government to orbit. 

The company then landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket back on land in Cape Canaveral, just days before Hurricane Irma is forecast to hit the area.  

The mission is an unusual one for SpaceX.

Instead of its usual private satellites or cargo for NASA, SpaceX launched a secret, uncrewed space plane called the X-37B to orbit for the Air Force, marking the spaceflight company’s first launch for the military 

This is the fifth mission of the X-37B, which is an uncrewed orbital vehicle that can spend years in space without coming back to Earth. 

It’s not clear exactly what the plane does while in orbit, but the Air Force has released some non-specific information. 

“The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold; reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth,” the Air Force said in a statement.

The Air Force operates two of the planes, which are  29 feet long and 9 feet 6 inches high, weighing in at 11,000 pounds at launch. 

The last X-37B mission came to a close in May when the plane landed in Florida after spending 718 days in orbit. 

It’s unclear how long this next mission will be, but it could be another record breaker. 

This mission marks SpaceX’s 16th rocket landing.

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