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Mysterious X-37B Plane Lands Back On Earth After Spending 2 Years In Space

First Posted: May 11, 2017 06:03 AM EDT
X-37B
The mysterious X-37B has landed back on Earth after completing 718 days in orbit.
(Photo : SciNews/YouTube screenshot)

The U.S. military plane X-37B has landed back on Earth after a flight of nearly two years in space. The drone has been the subject of many rumors due to its mysterious mission.

The craft that landed in Florida last Sunday looks like a small version of an old NASA space shuttle, measuring just under 30 feet in length with a nearly 15-foot wingspan, NDTV reported. The U.S. Air Force announced that the Orbital Test Vehicle had completed a 718-day voyage around the planet.

Since its first flight in 2010, when the plane was launched into low-Earth orbit atop a rocket, X-37B has fueled many speculations about its real purpose. According to Financial Express, public guesses have ranged from the drone being a space weapon and space-based bomber to it being a killer satellite capable of inflicting damage on enemy satellites. Speculations have also suggested that the craft is a spy plane that orbits Earth to keep a watch on enemy territories.

However, many experts do not believe that the X-37B is the prototype for a true espionage or war weapon. "The X-37 is the size of a pickup truck -- it would be difficult to have an effective weapon on board," expert with the Secure World Foundation, Victoria Samson, said. Furthermore, since the plane is only powered by solar panels, it will not be very maneuverable once in space.

According to a Deccan Chronicle report, experts think the drone on a mysterious mission is actually used as an experiment base rather than it being a weapon. The X-37B is most probably being used to test the performance of certain equipment and sensors in space. Incidentally, U.S.-based company Rocketdyne had announced that an ionic thruster, used by satellites to travel in space, was tested on X-37B’s most recent flight.

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