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US Military’s X-37B Sets Remarkable Record: 900 Days in Orbit, Uncovers Impressive Flight List!

The US military’s X-37B robotic spacecraft has just passed 900 days in orbit. The X-37B robot on its latest stealth mission will continue to add to its record flight duration in space. The current mission is the sixth for the X-37B program and is therefore known as OTV-6 (Orbital Test Vehicle 6).

The X-37B robot was launched on May 17, 2020, from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, and it is unclear when it will end. The OTV-6 was the first X-37B flight to use the service module to conduct experiments.

 

This service module has a rear that allows carrying additional experimental payloads into orbit. The mission also deployed FalconSat-8, a small satellite developed by the US Air Force Academy. The satellite was also sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory to conduct some experiments in orbit.

In addition, two NASA experiments were on board the spacecraft to study radiation yields and other space effects, on samples of plant material and seeds used as food sources. US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) experiments were also conducted on the spacecraft. This program evaluates technology for converting solar power into radio frequency microwave energy.

“The experiment, called the Photovoltaic Radio-frequency Antenna Module, or PRAM, continues to generate data. The longer we’re up there, the more we learn,” said Paul Jaffe, electronics engineer and NRL researcher.

 

The X-37B robot is undoubtedly carrying another payload that we don’t know about on the OTV-6 mission. Technologies tested in the X-37B program include advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics, structures and high temperature seals. This includes reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems, advanced propulsion systems, advanced materials and autonomous orbital flight, re-entry and landing,” the US Space Force official said.

 

Meanwhile, China’s orbital spacecraft, cataloged as 53357/2022-093A, also circled Earth and was elevated on August 4. Space tracker Robert Christy of Orbital Focus noted that the Chinese craft recently ejected something into space. “The new object separated from the main vehicle between October 24 and October 30. The two objects are very close to each other and may be stationkeeping,” the Christy report said.

The following is a list of flights from Boeing’s previous X-37B spacecraft:

 

1. OTV-1: launched April 22, 2010 and landed December 3, 2010, spending more than 224 days in orbit.

2. OTV-2: launched March 5, 2011 and landed June 16, 2012, spending more than 468 days in orbit.

3. OTV-3: launched December 11, 2012 and landed October 17, 2014, spending more than 674 days in orbit.

4. OTV-4: launched May 20, 2015 and landed May 7, 2015, spending nearly 718 days in orbit.

5. OTV-5: launched September 7, 2017 and landed October 27, 2019, spending nearly 780 days in orbit.

The OTV-1, OTV-2 and OTV-3 robots landed at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, while the OTV-4 and OTV-5 missions landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.