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US Air Force’s Mysterious X-37B Space Plane Sets New Record For Time In Space

“An Air Force X-37B spaceplane just completed its 718th day in orbit, making it the longest mission yet for a secretive military test program,” reports CNN:

The US military has launched five uncrewed X-37B spaceplanes into orbit over the past decade, and each flight has been longer than its predecessor…

What is known is that the military is using the planes to develop reusable spaceflight technology. Officials don’t necessarily want to reuse the same X-37B plane multiple times, but the Air Force designed the craft to try out new navigation systems as well as methods for reentering the Earth’s atmosphere and for landing safely back on terra firma. The X-37B is also popular among space fans because of its unique design. The planes, which look like miniature space shuttles, launch into orbit atop powerful rockets and then break away to carry out their mission. When their duties are complete, they swoop back toward Earth and touch down horizontally on a runway, like a commercial airplane or space shuttle orbiter coming in for landing…

The current X-37B plane in orbit, called OTV-5, was launched to space in September 2017 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The previous flight, for OTV-4, was 718 days long and ended in May 2017.


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