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Home / Science / The Dutch astronomer takes rare photos of the mysterious spacecraft of the US Air Force X-37B

The Dutch astronomer takes rare photos of the mysterious spacecraft of the US Air Force X-37B



The Dutch astronomer takes rare photos of the mysterious X-37B spacecraft of the US Air Force

  • Ralf Vandebergh, astrophotographer and avid celestial observer in the Netherlands, said he had been trying for months to locate the X-37B spacecraft [19659003]] He eventually discovered it in May, but was only able to photograph it last week.
  • The X-37B is currently on its 667th day of its fifth mission, called OTV-5.
  • Officials have revealed few details about the OTV-5 mission, but there was a suggestion that this could be part of a push for a US space force.
2:18 EDT, July 7, 2019 |

After months of searching, a Dutch astronomer has taken rare photos of the secret US Air Force X-37B spacecraft.

Ralf Vandebergh, an astrophotographer and avid celestial observer in the Netherlands, said he spent months trying to locate the robot spaceship and finally tracked it down in May.

It was not until last week that he photographed the elusive X-37B, which passed us on June 30 and July 2.

"It's really a small object, even if it's only 300 kilometers away [186 miles] altitude, so do not expect the level of detail of the ground-based images of the real space shuttle," Vandebergh said about the vehicle, according to Live Science ,

He was impressed by the level of detail he captured with the spacecraft, also called the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), which looks like a miniature version of the retired NASA Space Shuttle.

"We can see a piece of the nose, payload, and stern of this mini-shuttle, even with a hint of smaller details," Vandebergh said.

He shot with a 10-inch F / 4 Newton 8-aperture telescope and an Astrolumina ALccd 5L-11 mono CMOS camera after manually tracking the X-37B with a 6 × 30 finder scope.

  The Dutch astronomer Ralf Vandebergh took rare pictures of the mysterious spacecraft X-37B of the US Air Force last week after months of searching.

The Dutch astronomer Ralf Vandebergh has rare pictures of the mysterious spacecraft X-37B last week after months of searching US Air Force added

its fifth flight mission, called OTV-5.

It was launched on 7 September 2017 by one of Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 boosters at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Officials have disclosed few details about the OTV-5 mission, but there was one possible proposal as part of a push for a US Space Force.

The spacecraft is 29 feet long, 9.6 feet high, and weighs about 11,000 pounds.

It orbits about 200 miles and is powered by solar cells powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Little is known what it has on board, but the payload of OTV-5 is an American heat spreader that will test the longevity of electronics and heat pipes in the space environment.

  The X-37B is currently on its 667th day of its fifth mission, OTV-5. The above interpretation shows what the unmanned aircraft might look like as it circles the earth.

The X-37B is currently on its 667th day of its fifth mission, OTV-5. The above interpretation shows what the unmanned aircraft might look like as it circles the earth.

Known as the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader (ASETS-II), it was developed by the US Air Forces Research Laboratory (AFRL) to test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipes for long-term space exploration.

According to the AFRL, the main objective of the payload is to measure initial orbital thermal performance, measure thermal performance over an extended period of time, and assess all lifelong deterioration

In June last year, President Donald Trump announced that he would lead the Pentagon to a new space force as an independent service branch to ensure American dominance in space and said he did not want "China and Russia and other countries to lead us".

An expert has suggested that this aircraft could already be part of an early U S Space Force.

"Ironically, the X-37B is just the kind of program – to give the US flexibility in space operations – that seems to trigger the current push for a Space Force, but is already under way." # 39; Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor in national security issues at Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, told Space.com.

Four former X-37B missions were launched by United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 missiles.

Every time the unmanned spacecraft has carried a mysterious payload on long-term Earth orbit flights.

WHAT IS THE ROAD PLANE X-37B?

The US Air Force's unmanned spacecraft X-37B resembles NASA's spacecraft, but is much smaller.

The spacecraft is 29 feet (8.8 meters) long, 9.6 feet (2.9 meters) high, and weighs about 11,000 pounds. (4,990 kilograms).

It circles at an altitude of around 320 kilometers.

The US Air Force's unmanned spacecraft X-37B resembles NASA's Space Shuttle, but is much smaller. The spacecraft is 29 feet (8.8 meters) long, 9.6 feet (2.9 meters) high and weighs around 11,000 pounds. (4,990 kilograms)

Officials have revealed few details about the OTV-5 mission (the fifth of the plane). According to the Air Force, an on-board OTV-5 payload is a US thermal spreader designed to test the longevity of electronics and heat tubes in the space environment.

The ship is powered by solar cells with lithium-ion batteries.

Four former X-37B missions were launched by United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 missiles.

Every time the unmanned spacecraft has carried a mysterious payload on long-term Earth orbit flights.

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