This one, a sister plane to the Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle that returned from a month-long mission in December, was launched into the heavens Saturday atop an Atlas V rocket.
But what is its mission? Like the first X-37B, we have no idea, but we can be sure a bevy of amateur astronomers will capture images of its orbit around the earth with their telescopes.
The Air Force offered up this tidbit in a statement released Saturday:
[The program]”has the potential to make space experiments more affordable, which would allow future experiment designers to focus resources and dollars on technology and innovation rather than on basic services, layers of redundancy, or ground operations.”
The mission is scheduled to last 270 days, give or take. The first X-37B stayed in orbit for 224 days before landing safely in December. [CNET]