The X-37B Spacecraft, US Military Mysterious Aircraft That Almost Set Record for Longest Orbit Flight

The X-37B Spacecraft, US Military Mysterious Aircraft That Almost Set Record for Longest Orbit Flight
X-37B Spacecraft of the U.S. Air Force. (Image credit: NASA/MSFC)

International Military - The United States (US) military-operated X-37B unmanned spacecraft is rapidly approaching the record for longest mission in space.

The military spacecraft resembles the now retired space shuttle, albeit much smaller. New The mysterious plane is reported to be only 8.8 meters long compared to the shuttle's 37 m long.

Another significant difference is that the X-37B is a robot, whereas the NASA space shuttle is manned by astronauts. On May 17, 2020, the X-37B was launched into Earth orbit as part of the program's sixth mission also known as Orbital Test Vehicle-6 (OTV-6).

The US Space Force's mini-shuttle has now been in orbit for 773 days. According to the report, the plane was only one week short of the X-37B's record 780-day flight, set on the previous OTV-5 mission. However, the current record pales in comparison to other absolute records of space exploration, such as, for example, the Landsat-5 satellite observing Earth from orbit for 29 years.

The basic orbital purpose of the robotic spacecraft, which Boeing is developing, is being kept secret. However, some internal experiments were published prior to launch. The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has conducted experiments to look at the conversion of solar energy into radiofrequency microwave energy, according to the report, and the Photovoltaic Radio Frequency Antenna Module is the name of the experiment.

In addition, OTV-6 allegedly involved the launch of FalconSat-8, a small satellite created by the US Air Force Academy and funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory to conduct a number of experiments in orbit.

According to, two NASA experiments are currently being conducted aboard the spacecraft to examine how the environment in outer space affects sample plates of food materials and seeds. The X-37B OTV-6 mission is said to be the first to use a service module to host experiments. The service module is an addition to the rear of the space vehicle that allows the transport of additional experimental payload capacity into orbit.

The spacecraft carried out its first mission in April 2010, and with each flight spent more time in orbit than originally planned. The previous OTV-5 mission began in early September 2017 and ended in October 2019, marking about 780 days in orbit. When and where OTV-6 will land on Earth is reportedly unknown at this time.

OTV-4 and OTV-5 landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, OTV-1, OTV-2, and OTV-3 reportedly landed at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. A US Space Force unit named Delta 9, founded in July 2020, oversees the entire X-37B program. It is believed that the Space Force has two Boeing-made X-37B vehicles in its fleet.

The X-37B, like NASA's previous space shuttle orbiters, takes off vertically on a rocket and lands horizontally on the runway.

The X-37B, according to Boeing, has a number of features that have never been used before in space, such as a fully automatic de-orbit and landing mechanism, flight control and fully electro-mechanically activated brakes (without hydraulics), and a body that made of a composite structure that is relatively light in weight than conventional aluminum.

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