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Oct 12, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

The US Air Force’s space plane has already spent a record 719 days in orbit

Currently orbiting the Earth, the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane has broken its own record, spending 719 consecutive days – and counting – in orbit. The mission was only scheduled to last 270 days.

Having spent 719 days in orbit, the US military’s X-37B space shuttle has broken its own record, reported website Clubic on Tuesday 27th August. The previous record was 717 days, set during its previous mission. 

 

The mission was only supposed to last 270 days

 

Launched on 7th September 2017 from the base at Cape Canaveral (Florida), the X-37B shuttle is only 9 metres long and weighs around 5 tonnes. This space plane is much smaller than the shuttles developed by NASA, but nevertheless has proven to be extremely robust and resistant. The aircraft is equipped with solar panels and lithium-ion batteries that supply it with energy.

The current mission, OTV-5, was only supposed to last 270 days, but the machine’s endurance enabled it to set a new record for flying around the Earth. And the journey is not over yet, as the shuttle is still in orbit. “Each new mission has broken the previous record by around 200 days,” reported Science Post. 

 

A top-secret programme

 

There is still some mystery surrounding the aim of this classified military programme. According to the Pentagon, it is to carry out scientific research in order to find out how different materials behave in space. These experiments could be used to refine various technologies used in the field of space exploration.

“Technologies being tested in the program include advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics […],” the American authorities stated in a press release. The X-37B could have various experimental devices on board, such as cameras, new-generation electronic sensors and innovative tools for mapping the Earth.

 

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