US Air Force’s ultra-secretive X-37B plane has now spent 500 days in orbit as part of its latest heavily-classified mission 

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  • The US Air Force’s secret X-37B has passed 500 days flying around the Earth
  • OTV-6 mission taken from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in May 2020
  • Robotic space plane hosts a number of classified experiments for the military
  • OTV-6 mission return date not clear at the moment

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The US Air Force’s secret X-37B space plane, launched in May 2020, has now passed 500 days of flying around the Earth, with no clear end.

The mission, called the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6), took place aboard a liquid-fueled Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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The X-37B, a robot that took off from Earth on May 17, 2020, is used to host a number of classified experiments for the military.

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The US Air Force’s secret X-37B space plane has passed 500 days flying around the Earth

News of the 500-day milestone was first reported by Space.com.

This pilotless craft has performed several classified missions for the military since 2010, as it tests new technologies in space.

This mission, whose date of return to Earth is unclear at this point, is the first to use a service module that hosts experiments, some of which were discussed prior to launch.

“The service module is attached to the aft of the vehicle which allows additional experimental payload capacity to be carried into orbit,” the US Space Force said in a statement. Statement.

OTV-6 mission taken from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in May 2020

OTV-6 mission taken from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in May 2020

The US Space Force said it deployed FalconSat08, a small satellite developed by the Air Force to perform “multiple experiments on orbit”.

It also had two NASA experiments, which “studied radiation and other space effects on food sample plates and materials used to grow seeds,” the statement said.

Finally, an experiment was conducted from the US Naval Research Laboratory to ‘convert solar energy into radio-frequency microwave energy that could then be transmitted to the ground.’

Although the Air Force owns the X-37B, the newly formed Space Force is responsible for the launch, operation and landing of the craft.

Boeing, which built the X-37B, describes The robotic aircraft is one of the ‘world’s newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft’ capable of flying between 150 and 500 miles from Earth.

It is the first vehicle since the Space Shuttle with the capability to return experiments to Earth for further observation and analysis.

The Air Force has two X-37Bs that are swapped out while one is being refurbished.

Powered by solar cells with lithium-ion batteries, the plane was orbiting at an altitude of about 200 miles.

The first mission lasted 224 days in 2010, the second a year later lasted 468 days and the mission ended in 2019 for a total of 780 days.

The first mission lasted 224 days in 2010, the second one lasted for 468 days after a year and ended in 2019 for a total of 780 days

The first mission lasted 224 days in 2010, the second one lasted for 468 days after a year and ended in 2019 for a total of 780 days

The last five X-37B missions have been launched by United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets.

Each time an unmanned space plane has carried a mysterious payload on long-duration flights into Earth orbit.

What is the X-37B Space Plane?

The US Air Force’s unmanned X-37B space plane resembles a NASA spacecraft in appearance but is much smaller.

The space plane is 29 feet (8.8 m) long, 9.6 feet (2.9 m) long and weighs about 11,000 pounds. (4,990 kg).

It is orbiting at an altitude of about 200 miles (320 kilometers).

The US Air Force’s unmanned X-37B space plane resembles a NASA spacecraft in appearance but is much smaller. The space plane is 29 feet (8.8 m) long, 9.6 feet (2.9 m) long and weighs about 11,000 pounds. (4,990 kg)

Officials have revealed few details about the OTV-5 mission (the plane’s fifth), but according to the Air Force, there is a US thermal spreader on board the OTV-5 payload that increases the longevity of electronics and heat pipes in the space environment. will test.

The craft is powered by solar cells with lithium-ion batteries.

The last four X-37B missions have been launched by United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets.

Each time an unmanned space plane has carried a mysterious payload on long-duration flights into Earth orbit.

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