The X-37B spaceplane by the US Air Force returned back to the land after a record 780 days of orbiting the Earth. The secretive space plane was launched on September 9, 2017, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle.
The X-37B made its landing on Sunday, 27 October at 3:51 a.m. at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. A statement released by the Air Force on Sunday said that the space mission, which was a part of their military test program, has proven to be successful. Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess, 45th Space Wing commander, said in a statement, “Today marks an incredibly exciting day for the 45th Space Wing. Our team has been preparing for this event, and I am extremely proud to see their hard work and dedication culminate in today’s safe and successful landing of the X-37B.”
This was the fifth such program launched by the Air Force and also the longest in terms of the number of days spent in orbit. According to the statement given by the Air Force, the next space program mission by the spacecraft will be launched next year. The authorities have maintained utmost secrecy regarding the details of the military space program. According to a previous online post by the Air Force Public Affairs Agency, the orbital space program intends on conducting tests on “risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.”
The reusable space plane built by Boeing is managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. The X-37B has a shape that resembles that of a space shuttle that has a length of about 29 feet (8.8 meters) and a height measuring. The spacecraft made to experiment with new navigation systems has a wingspan of close to 15 feet (4.5 meters).
Caroline Kenny is the senior news reporter for News Fior She covers Science. Caroline graduated from the Honors College at the College of Charleston with bachelor’s degrees in communication and political science. She worked for Science Mag. She was a digital producer for Science Mag. She is a native of Long Island, New York.