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NASA has outlined the materials research it will be conducting on the next X-37B flight, scheduled to launch on May 20.
Known as the Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space, or METIS, the investigation on the X-37B will expose nearly 100 different materials samples to the space environment for more than 200 days, NASA says. METIS is building upon data obtained by several missions of the Materials on International Space Station Experiment (MISSE), which flew more than 4,000 samples in space from 2001 to 2013. For both MISSE and METIS, small samples the size of quarters are used. METIS will fly a variety of materials including polymers, composites and coatings.
Not only does this information, plus earlier information about an Air Force ion engine thruster experiment, probably describe a great deal of what the X-37B is carrying, it also tells us the probable duration of the flight.
I have no doubt there are other classified Air Force experiments on board, but like these, they are likely to be test articles, since the X-37B provides the perfect testbed for exposing new technology to space to see how it fares.