Mysterious spaceplane stays in orbit for 908 days before returning to Earth

The X-37B orbital test vehicle sits on the runway during post-landing operations in 2010 (US Air Force Photo/Michael Stonecypher) (Photo by DoD/Corbis via Getty Images)

A mysterious robotic “space plane” – more than two years – before finally landing last Saturday.

The Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The new flight exceeded that of the machine .

The X37-b first went into space in 2010 and flew six missions.

The craft can carry cargo into space and send it back to engineers on Earth.

When he landed from a previous mission, he was greeted by ground crew in biohazard gear – sparking rumors that there was something radioactive on board.

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The plane has a wingspan of less than 15ft – and is taken into space on a rocket, but returns to Earth like a space shuttle.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6) launches from Pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station May 17, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  The USSF-7 mission for the US Space Force is the sixth flight of the OTV-6 spaceplane, an unmanned spacecraft that looks like a miniature version of NASA's retired space shuttle.  (Photo by Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the X-37B orbital test vehicle will launch in 2020 (Photo by Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

With the successful completion of its sixth mission, the reusable spaceplane has now flown more than 1.3 billion miles and spent a total of ten years in space.

Boeing says it is conducting experiments for government and industrial partners with the possibility of sending them back to Earth for evaluation.

“This mission highlights Space Force‘s focus on collaborative space exploration and expanding low-cost access to space for our partners, in and out. of the Department of the Air Force (DAF),” said General Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations.

The sixth mission launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in May 2020.

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Hosted experiments included a solar power experiment designed by the Naval Research Lab, as well as a satellite designed and built by U.S. Air Force Academy cadets in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The satellite, dubbed FalconSat-8, was successfully deployed in October 2021 and remains in orbit today.

This mission also hosted several NASA experiments, including Materials Exposure and Technological Innovation in Space (METIS-2), which evaluated the effects of space exposure on various materials to validate and improve the accuracy of spatial environment models. This was the second flight for this type of experience. Mission 6 also hosted a NASA experiment to assess the effects of long-term space exposure on seeds.

Jim Chilton, senior vice president, Boeing Space and Launch, said, “Since the first launch of the X-37B in 2010, it has broken records and provided our nation with an unparalleled capability to rapidly test and integrate new space technologies. .

“With the added service module, this was the most we have ever carried into orbit on the X-37B and we are proud to have been able to prove this flexible new capability to the government and its industrial partners.”

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