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“Space Plane” orbited the Earth for two years

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 29 oct 2019, 8:35 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 31 ago 2020, 7:25 ]
The aircraft, called X-37B, has a design that bears some resemblance to the now out of commission’s American space shuttles.
The space plane X-37B is transported in Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States.
On Sunday October 27, 2019, the unmanned space aircraft X-37B landed at Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, thus completing a record mission of 780 days in orbit, the United States Air Force said.

“The X-37B continues to demonstrate the importance of a reusable spaceplane,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said in a news release.

“Each successive mission advances our nation’s space capabilities,” she added.

The Boeing-built space planes resemble a smaller version of NASA’s old space shuttles and that’s why it has been nicknamed “the baby shuttle” and have a similar re-entry trajectory that uses a runway, like the old shuttles.

Classified program

The X-37B feature a small payload bay and use a deployable solar array for power.

The 11,000-pound vehicle is about 29 feet long with a wingspan of just under 15 feet and was designed to stay in orbit for 270 days.

“The safe return of this spacecraft, after breaking its own endurance record, is the result of the innovative partnership between government and industry,” Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, said in a statement.

Because the program is classified, the Air Force reveals few details about the exact nature of the experiments, but it’s known that it was designed to serve as a platform for experiments and to offer insights on transporting satellite sensors and other equipment to and from space.

Cape Canaveral

The plane took off from the Air Force’s Station at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in its fifth mission on September 7, 2017, on board of a SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and the Air Force wants to launch X-37B’s sixth mission in 2020.

The plane had its maiden flight in 2010, its orbital flight has been observed several times by amateur astronomers and a second model was launched on its first mission in 2011. 

Sources: MSN News and the United States Air Force.