Air Force’s mysterious X-37B spacecraft sets new record for time in space

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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.

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. The current mission has no specified end date, according to Air Force spokesman Major William Russell. The spacecraft will return to Earth only after it has completed all its objectives, he said. The details of those objectives remain a closely guarded secret. The X-37B program ables to attract public interest because of that secrecy: The Air Force does not share the locations of the X-37B planes while they’re in orbit, although novice astronomers have made a sport out of spotting the spacecrafts with telescopes.

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 crafts 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 spacecrafts are also designed to carry out “experiments” that “can be returned to, and examined, on Earth” after the mission is over, according to Russell, the Air Force spokesman. The nature of those experiments are kept secret.

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Sandra Williams

Sandra is a science enthusiast and a researcher by nature. Her articles are informative and eloquent in equal measures, and always include knowledge that is verified by authentic sources. She is a maven at health related sciences and takes an interest in new scientific findings from all facets of the subject. Her column is a ready reckoner on all that is going on in the world of scientific study, and health sciences, including disease outbreaks, their causes, and prevention measures being taken.

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