Just What Was The Purpose Of The Mystery Mini Shuttle? | Loungtastic

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Just What Was The Purpose Of The Mystery Mini Shuttle? | Loungtastic

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Just What Was All The Fuss About?

The U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane is just eight days away from setting a record on its current clandestine mission.

If the robotic vehicle stays aloft until March 25, it will break the X-37B mission-duration mark of 674 days, which was established back in October 2014.

It's unclear whether that will actually happen, however; the Air Force is tight-lipped about most X-37B payloads and activities, including touchdown plans. [The X-37B's Fourth Mystery Mission in Photos]

"The landing date will be determined based on the completion of the program's on-orbit demonstrations and objectives for this mission," Capt. AnnMarie Annicelli, an Air Force spokeswoman, told Space.com via email when asked when the current mission might end.

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The U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane, known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, is shown here in a 2009 photo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. An X-37B spacecraft is currently flying the fourth classified mission for the U.S. Air Force.
Credit: U.S. Air Force

The uncrewed X-37B (also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, or OTV) looks a lot like NASA's now-retired space shuttle, only much smaller. The X-37B is just 29 feet (8.8 meters) long and 9.6 feet (2.9 m) tall, with a wingspan of about 15 feet (4.6 m). Two of the vehicles could fit inside a space shuttle's payload bay.

The Air Force is known to have two X-37Bs, both of which were built by Boeing. These twin craft have flown four missions to date. OTV-1 launched on April 22, 2010, and landed on Dec. 3 of that year, spending 224 days in orbit. OTV-2 started on March 5, 2011, and wrapped up on June 16, 2012, after 468 days in space. OTV-3 launched on Dec. 11, 2012, and landed on Oct. 17, 2014, after circling the Earth for more than 674 days.

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Amazing!

Another Russian Fighter Intercepted A US Navy Aircraft

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet has intercepted a US Navy EP-3E Aries plane over the Black Sea near Russian airspace and escorted it away in a safe manner, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

Meanwhile, the US Navy announced that a US reconnaissance aircraft was intercepted earlier on Monday by a Russian fighter jet while flying in international airspace over the Black Sea, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Here we go...

The US reconnaissance aircraft was spotted approaching Russia’s airspace and was immediately identified by the Su-27 fighter jet “at a safe distance,” Russian news agencies reported, citing a defence ministry statement.

After reporting back to the communications intelligence unit, the fighter jet escorted it away from the Russian airspace “in compliance with all security and safety requirements,” it said.

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According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the fighter jet returned to its home base after the US plane altered its flight course away from Russian airspace.

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The US Navy, in a statement, called the interaction as “determined to be unsafe”, saying the Russian SU-27 conducted “a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, putting at risk the pilots and crew”.

Also on Monday, a Pentagon spokesperson said that the Russian jet came “very, very close” to the US EP-3 aircraft, adding that it made an additional pass after activating its afterburners to create more turbulence.

There was no communication between the two planes and the encounter lasted about 25 minutes, Spokesperson Eric Pahon told reporters at the Pentagon.

The Pentagon said that the EP-3 was conducting routine operations while the encounter happened, not provoking the Russian activity.

VIDEO: Russian fighter jet intercepts US Navy plane over Black Sea...

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