The mysterious space plane of the United States Air Force X-37B is back on Earth, after a 780-day mission in orbit that broke records, the fifth ultra-long task of the military fleet with this type of aircraft.
The unmanned space plane landed on Sunday at the military base of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 3:51 am local time.
According to the Space.com page, the Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5), launched from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on September 7, 2017, made an autonomous and smooth landing.RELATED
The mission of the X-37B broke the previous record of permanence in space for 718 days set by the OTV-4 mission in May 2017. This is the fourth clandestine mission that the plane fulfills.
"The safe return of this spacecraft, after breaking its own resistance record, is the result of the innovative partnership between government and industry," said General David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, cited in a bulletin of the military institution. "The sky is no longer the limit for the Air Force and, if Congress approves it, for the United States Space Force," he added.
The Air Force has reported very little about what the X-37B did in orbit, which adds even more mystery to the issue. "The X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully accomplished all mission objectives," said Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Office of Fast Capacities, which manages the program.
"This mission successfully hosted experiments of the Air Force Research Laboratory, among others, in addition to providing a trip for small satellites," Walden explained.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Keen, manager of the X-37B program, said in the same Air Force bulletin that the spacecraft "is a key component of the space community. This milestone demonstrates our commitment to carry out experiments for future space exploration. of the United States. "
The robotic vehicle resembles NASA's famous space shuttle, but is much smaller. The X-37B is about 28.9 feet (8.8 meters) long and 9.5 feet (2.9 meters) high, with a wingspan of just under 15 feet (4.6 meters). It has a weight of 11,000 pounds (4,990 kilograms).
It is expected that next year there will be another launch from Cape Canaveral. According to the secretary of the Air Force, Barbara Barrett, "each successive mission advances the space capabilities of our nation."
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