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US Air Force

An odd pair lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station today as the Planetary Society's LightSail nanosatellite piggybacked a ride atop an Atlas V rocket alongside the US Air Force's secret X-37B spaceplane.

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More details have been revealed about the X-37B spaceplane's upcoming OTV-4 mission. When it launches on May 20 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the (not entirely) secret X-37B will carry a NASA experiment called Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS) designed to test new materials for use in future spacecraft.

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The US Air Force's most public secret, the X-37B unmanned spaceplane, is now a little less top secret. The Air Force has revealed that when the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) 4 mission lifts off from Cape Canaveral AFB on May 20, it will be carrying a Hall thruster as part of an experiment to improve the design for use on Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) military communications spacecraft. Read More
Reaction Engines' Skylon reusable spaceplane project has been given a boost, with analysis by the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) confirming the feasibility of the SABRE engine cycle concept that lies at its heart. Read More
Ground was broken at the future six-acre (2.4-hectare) site of the new Space Fence radar system in a special ceremony last month on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The ceremony marked the official start of construction of the system that will replace the Air Force Space Surveillance System (AFSSS) in tracking objects in orbit, including commercial and military satellites and debris from collisions. Read More
A US Air Force weather satellite exploded in Earth orbit on February 3, scattering debris along its path. In a report by Space.com, Air Force and space officials indicated the breakup of Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13 (DMSP-F13) was due to a malfunction of its battery system rather than a collision with a foreign body. Meanwhile, The European Space Agency (ESA) has released an assessment of the hazard posed by the debris. Read More
Cape Canaveral has seen decades of rockets lifting into space, and now it will act as home to the world's first space landing pad. Brigadier General Nina Armagno, commander of the US Air Force 45th Space Wing, signed an agreement with SpaceX; giving the company a five-year lease on Launch Complex 13 (LC-13) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, which will be converted to receive returning boosters and spacecraft making powered soft landings. Read More
It was fourth time's the charm today as NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 6:05 pm EST. The launch went without incident, placing the unmanned solar weather station into a parking orbit, but rough weather in the recovery area meant that the planned power landing attempt of the Falcon 9 booster had to be abandoned. Read More
Sunday's delayed launch means that NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) will wait at least a day before it can take up its job of helping warn of potentially damaging solar flares. If Monday's rescheduled liftoff goes as planned, the unmanned spacecraft will be on its way to a point between the Earth and the Sun, where it will act as a space weather observatory and early warning station. Read More

Today's launch of NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) has been delayed 24 hours. With less than two and a half minutes on the clock, mission control placed the launch on hold due to problems in the first stage avionics and with one of the range safety radars. Read More

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