Air Force’s Mysterious X-37B Space Plane Wings by 600 Days in Orbit

X-37B

The U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane has now spent 600 days in Earth orbit on the vessel’s latest mission, and is nearing a program record for longest time spent in space.

The robotic X-37B lifted off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on May 20, 2015, kicking off the program’s fourth space mission (which is known as Orbital Test Vehicle-4, or OTV-4).

If the uncrewed spacecraft spends 74 more days aloft, it will break the duration record set during OTV-3, which touched down in October 2014. [The X-37B’s Fourth Mystery Mission in Photos]

But it’s unclear how long OTV-4 will last, or just what the X-37B is doing as it circles Earth; most details about the space plane’s missions and payloads are classified.

X-37B
X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle diagram

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