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It will conduct an Hall thruster electric propulsion experiment to enable in-space characterization of design modifications that are intended to improve performance to the units onboard AEHF military communications spacecraft. Produced by Aerojet Rocktdyne, the AEHF satellites’ Hall thrusters are 4.5-kilowatt units that use electricity and xenon to produce thrust for maneuvering satellites in space. The on-orbit test plans for the experiment are being developed by Air Force Research Laboratory and administered by the Rapid Capabilities Office, which runs the X-37B program. The experiment will include collection of telemetry from the Hall thruster operating in the space environment as well as measurement of the thrust imparted on the vehicle. Also on board is NASA's METIS (Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space) eperiment to expose nearly 100 different materials samples to the space environment for more than 200 days. METIS is based on the MISSE (Materials on International Space Station Experiment), which flew more than 4,000 samples in space from 2001 to 2013. METIS will fly a variety of materials including polymers, composites and coatings.

Alternate Names

  • 40651
  • USA 261
  • OT4

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2015-05-20
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States

Funding Agencies

  • United States Air Force Academy (United States)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Other

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

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