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Air Force covert space planes after more than 2 years in orbit: NPR



The orbital mission 5 of the X-37B Air Force Orbital Test is seen after landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on Sunday.

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Mission 5 of the Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicles is visible after landing at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on Sunday.

After a record 780 days orbiting Earth, the mysterious airplane X-37B dropped from orbit and landed safely on the same runway that the space shuttle once used.

This was the fifth recognized vehicle mission built by Boeing at the aerospace company Phantom Works.

"Today marks an incredibly exciting day for the 45th Space Wing," Brig. The statement said General Doug Shias, commander of the 45th Space Wing. "Our team is preparing for this event. I am extremely proud to see that their hard work and dedication culminate in today's safe and successful landing of the X-37B."

As in previous missions, many details of vehicle activities over the past two years have been kept under wrapping. One of the experiments was "testing experimental electronics and oscillating technologies for long-lasting space tubes in space," according to a BBC statement.

Randy Walden, director of the Air Force's Rapid Capabilities Service, said the latest X-37B mission "successfully hosted experiments at the Air Force Research Laboratory, among others, as well as providing small satellite travel."

Walden's statement elicited a reaction from some, such as Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who runs the satellite registration sections.

"The statement that this @usairforce small-satellite flight X-37 is alarming as the United States did not report these deployments in its proposals for a UN registration convention. , "McDowell wrote in a tweet." This will be the first time that either the United States or the Russian have criminally implemented the Convention. "

The Air Force is thought to have two 29-foot reusable X-37Bs – which resemble miniature orbital space shuttles – both flying multiple flights, according to Space.com, originally designed to spend 240 days in orbit, but with the last flight – and the previous one, which lasted 718 days – tripled their expected endurance, the last mission known as OTV-5 was launched into orbit by SpaceX Falcon 9 on September 7, 2017.

The X-37B was first developed by NASA as an aircraft , forcing bed for future spacecraft, but in 2004 was transferred to the Agency for Advanced Study of Defense (DARPA) and is then absorbed by the Air Force.


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