first published on August 28, 2019 by Funker
The Air Force’s space plane, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), has just broke the record for most consecutive days in orbit of the Earth.
The unmanned spacecraft surpassed 717 days, 20 hours and 42 minutes in space on Aug. 26, 2019, and thereby broke the previous record which was set by the X-37B’s last mission.
Little information regarding the space plane or its mission is released to the public. What we do know is that the vehicle is designed after NASA’s X-37 program.
We also know that the X-37B can modify its orbit to make detection by enemy forces much more complicated.
The Air Force claims the spacecraft is designed to perform long duration space technology experimentation and testing in regards to navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics, lightweight electromechanical flight systems, advanced material and autonomous orbital flight, according to the Air Force Times.
The X-37B is a reusable robotic spacecraft. It is boosted into space by a launch vehicle, then re-enters Earth’s atmosphere and lands as a spaceplane. Its exact dimensions are classified, but it is significantly smaller than a classic shuttle.
The #OTV5 / #X37B space plane photographed in orbit! Finally an image showing this mini-Space Shuttle which is only a fraction in size of the real Shuttle. https://t.co/r7zqATUpN4 @SPACEdotcom @planet4589 @Marco_Langbroek @Astroguyz @govertschilling @phi48 @Sterne_Weltraum pic.twitter.com/a5RvgnHPFB
— Ralf Vandebergh (@ralfvandebergh) July 3, 2019
Rumors have swirled over the years about its actual purpose. For instance, it is believed by some that the X-37B was being used to spy on China’s Tiangong-1 space station module. It has been said that the X-37B was being used “to test reconnaissance and spy sensors, particularly how they hold up against radiation and other hazards of orbit”. While others have suggested that the Air Force was using the OTV to test the EmDrive electromagnetic microwave thruster as well as a Hall-effect thruster system for Aerojet Rocketdyne.