“Unmanned X-37B shuttle, whose first flight took place in 2010, has now spent a total of more than 10 years in space and flown more than 1.3 billion miles during six missions,” says Boeing.
A US military space drone has landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after nearly two and a half years in orbit, Boeing said.
The unmanned X-37B shuttle, whose first flight took place in 2010, has now spent a total of more than 10 years in space and flown more than 1.3 billion miles during six missions, Boeing said in a statement on Saturday.
“Since the X-37B’s first launch in 2010, it has shattered records and provided our nation with an unrivaled capability to rapidly test and integrate new space technologies,” said Jim Chilton, a senior vice president for Boeing, its developer.
Before the shuttle’s last launch, in May 2020, the Pentagon evoked a series of scientific experiments it would undertake.
Among the experiments was a satellite dubbed the FalconSat-8 that was designed and built by academy cadets in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory.
It was deployed in October 2021 and still remains in orbit.
Another experiment evaluated the effects of long-duration space exposure on seeds.
“This mission highlights the Space Force’s focus on collaboration in space exploration and expanding low-cost access to space for our partners, within and outside of the Department of the Air Force,” said General Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations.
Launched in secrecy, the X-37B was designed for the Air Force by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
It is nine metres long, has a 4.5 metre wingspan and is powered by solar panels.