Ok, so nobody really knows much about the mysterious X37B drone built by Boeing, but what is known is the fact that it will be used to test out futuristic space tech. Come May 20, the drone will leave the planet behind in order to test out a new type of Hall effect thruster for the Air Force, but it will also carry with it a selection of 100 materials that have the potential to be used for future spacecraft, rockets or rovers. The project is dubbed Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS), and it follows in the footsteps of another testing session that previously took place onboard the International Space Station.
As you probably know by now, recreating the harsh environment of outer space is a daunting task down here on the surface, which is why experts have to actually send the material samples into space in order to check their behavior and resilience. The samples are each about the size of a quarter, and they will spend 200 days onboard the drone. When they will return they will be carefully analyzed, and some will be chosen for future spacecraft projects.
Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.