The top secret X-37B spaceplane landed in Florida yesterday following a record-long orbital flight lasting more than two years, the US Air Force said, completing the latest test mission for an array of cutting-edge military tech. Boeing’s unmanned X-37B finally landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre after spending 780 days orbiting Earth as part of the Orbital Test Vehicle program, the US Air Force confirmed. Sharing many design features with NASA’s Space Shuttle, the bus-sized spaceplane was sent into orbit in 2017 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
X-37B embarking on a mission managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office to conduct various classified technology experiments in a long-duration space environment.
Barbara Barrett, the newly appointed Air Force secretary said in a statement: ”The X-37B continues to demonstrate the importance of a reusable spaceplane.
“Each successive mission advances our nation’s space capabilities.”
The previous X-37B mission lasted 718 days and landed in 2017.
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This definitely is not the end for the X-37B as a sixth flight is scheduled to launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral in 2020.
It does, however, raise the bar for future trips.
If the US Air Force continues its long-duration space missions, it will have to fly the space plane for substantially more than two years.
Although this appears increasingly feasible, it is considerably more challenging than it was this time around.