Why The US Air Force Is Teaming Up With SpaceX

08 Juin, 2017, 18:49 | Author: Come Portier
  • SpaceX to put on the detective hat for the US Airforce						
						Tech															By:				CIOL Writers

The most recent X-37B mission was launched by ULA and ended about a month ago, after it spent almost two years in space.

The X-37B is a reusable unmanned aircraft manufactured by Boeing which is launched into space on the back of a rocket and lands on a runway once it has completed its mission.

Elon Musk-owned SpaceX bagged the contract to launch the mysterious unmanned X-37B space plane - also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle or OTV - which the U.S. Air Force owns. United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket uses Russian-made engines, which has long raised concerns among national security experts.

The new contract was revealed during Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson's appearance before the US Senate Armed Service Committee, just two months before the scheduled launch. That started in 2014, when SpaceX sued the government, saying the Air Force wasn't giving SpaceX fair consideration when it awarded contracts.

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The deal's financial terms were not revealed as the X-37B space plane program is the USA military's confidential venture. However, getting the deal was not an easy task as SpaceX had to strive to break ULA's monopoly and get the profitable military contract. However, the Air Force claims the mini-space shuttle is simply testing technologies in orbit and carrying out experiments which can be returned to Earth.

In March, SpaceX beat United Alliance to win its second Air Force launch contract valued at $96.5 million. The company also signed a $82.7 million deal with the U.S. Air Force to lift off two of its Global Positioning System satellites into the Earth's orbit in 2018.

The X-37B is a nugget of a spacecraft, weighing only about 5000kg - for context, NASA's Space Shuttle weighed around 75,000kg empty.

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