7 may ended a two-year flight the us space plane X-37B. For years of existence of this secret military program, there were many guesses, what makes this minishell in space, but the confirmed information about him quite a bit.
The just third-party experts and commentators speculated that in the framework of the program of tests X-37B us military to develop ways of destroying satellites or the technology of the placement of weapons in orbit.
Others said that the space plane is a spy — or for different objects on Earth and in space, whether specifically for the Chinese space station “Tiangong”.
All these assumptions are military scientists from the Agency defense advanced research (DARPA) and their civilian partners on the project, including the creators of the device from Boeing or not answer at all, or were assured that the flights of the X-37B solved absolutely other problems.
Officially confirmed that X-37B is a test of modification of ion engine operating on the Hall effect. This was announced the company-the developer of the engine Aerojet Rocketdyne.
A new type of engine
Ion thrusters is, however, not new: the first was made almost half a century ago. Are fundamentally new electromagnetic engine EMDrive, which, under assumptions of experts, could be tested on the X-37B.
In November 2016, NASA published a report about this type of engine, and the report became a sensation. Before him it was assumed that such an engine proposed by the British inventor Roger Scheuer in 1999, should not work.
However, the orbital plane as a platform for testing in the NASA report is not mentioned.
Last flight of X-37B was the fourth entering orbit. The first took place in 2010, and tests in the atmosphere began in 2006.
The X-37 was launched even earlier, in 1999, and was initially civilian. Did NASA and Boeing, and the purpose of the X-37 was seen by developers, in particular, to repairing satellites.
Initially it was assumed that the space X-37 will bring in their cargo compartments of the Shuttle. X-37 is four times less than the Shuttle, its length is only 8.8 meters.
After the accidents and the decommissioning of the space Shuttle program from this idea had to be abandoned, and the apparatus is withdrawn into space launch vehicles.
The second unmanned
Military and secret program began in 2004, when she was transferred to the defense advanced research and Military-air forces of the USA.
Then it was called Orbital Test Vehicle, OTV (“experimental Orbital vehicle”). In 2006, the U.S. air force announced that it is developing a new modification of the apparatus — the X-37B.
The apparatus, as shown by the last flight, for a very long time to be in orbit and quickly changed his initial task was seen to fly up to different satellites and repair them.
The model developers are experiencing, according to experts, the new control system and automatic pilot, the new high-temperature coating and other technical innovations.
X-37B became the second, after the Soviet Buran spacecraft, sitting down in an automatic, unmanned mode. Shuttles at landing is controlled crew.