Fourth Atlas-V Spaceplane Launch Heralds X-37B Program Shift As Centaur to Deploy Naval Satellites at Higher Inclination. Lots of secret stuff on board, but some unclassified payloads as well:
- Lightsail by the Planetary Society
- Xenon fueled “Hall thruster” mounted in the payload bay.
- Aerocube 8/Impact: A two satellite cubesat mission to test new electric propulsion systems and , nano and carbon nanotube solar cell technologies.
- PSAT A&B, which includes an AMSAT transponder
- BRICSat-P, which will demonstrate Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster electric propulsion while also carrying an AMSAT transponder
PSAT and BRICSat are US Naval Academy products…just sayin’.
Previous flights of the X-37B have orbited at 40-43 degrees inclination. This mission will orbit at a 57 degree inclination and 350 x 700 km perigee/apogee measurements. My handy-dandy home-made orbit analysis tool says that the orbit then have an orbital period of about 95 minutes, and…