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US Secretive Military Space Plane Already Orbited The Earth For 700 Days

First Posted: Apr 21, 2017 05:10 AM EDT
X-37B Space Plane Breaks Orbital Record
Military Boeing X-37 space plane has circled the planet Earth for 700 days.
(Photo : Live Science/YouTube screenshot)

The U.S. secretive military space plane referred to as X-37B has already orbited the planet Earth for 700 days. It is pursuing its fourth mission known as Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-4) since May 20, 2015.

The first mission of X-37B known as OTV-1 was launched in April 2010. It orbited the Earth for 224 days. Meanwhile, OTV-2 was launched in March 2011 and circled the Earth for 468 days. OTV-3 started in December 2012 and orbited the Earth for almost 675 days, according to Live Science.

The Air Force officials emphasized that the major objectives of the X-37B are reusing spacecraft technologies for America's outlook in space and managing experiments that could be returned to and investigated on the planet Earth. They stated that this secretive space plane must operate for 270 days in orbit. On the other hand, the three missions had surpassed the designated duration.

The Boeing X-37 or X-37B is also referred to as the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV). This unmanned spacecraft is managed by the United States Air Force. It is a reusable unmanned space plane. The robotic space plane is more than 29 feet (8.8 meters) in length and has two angled tail fins. It is derived from the earlier Boeing X-40.

Its goal is to demonstrate reusable space technologies. On the other hand, there were speculations of its purpose. It was reported that X-37B space plane is used as a spy satellite or could distribute weapons from space, yet this was denied by the Pentagon. There were also allegations that the space plane was used to spy on China's Tiangcong-1 space station module. This was also refuted by the Air Force officials.

Meanwhile, once the mission of X-37B has been completed, it may later land in Florida at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, which the Air Force modified. The Air Force officials stated that they want to establish the program's launch and the landing on Florida's Space Coast. 

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