X-37B: US spaceplane returned after 908 days in space

The experimental US space glider X-37B has now completed six missions, one longer than the others. Several records were set at the last one.

The space glider after landing  (Image: Boeing/US Space Force)

The US Space Agency’s experimental unmanned reusable X-37B spacecraft has landed again, setting a new record with a mission duration of 908 days in orbit. This was announced by the US company Boeing, which built the spacecraft. The sixth mission was a success. In total, the two built copies have now been in space for 3774 days. What exactly the space glider did in space was a secret for a long time. Boeing is now talking about an experiment on solar energy, a successfully deployed satellite, and several attempts for the US space agency NASA in preparation for interplanetary missions and permanent bases in space. The space plane landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

An X-37B was launched for the first time in early December 2010, and this mission alone lasted over 220 days. A few months later, the second built space glider was launched, it had been orbiting the earth for 468 days. Other missions followed, each lasting well over 600 days. With the OTV-6 flight, which has now ended, more experiments were brought into space than ever before. The battered US company Boeing, which is responsible for building the space glider and supporting the missions, is proud of its success. Originally, the spaceship was only designed for missions of up to 270 days.

The US X-37B program has now apparently found imitators in China. The Middle Kingdom has launched a reusable spaceship several times, and it has been circling the earth since the beginning of August. However, the level of secrecy surrounding the program is significantly higher than that surrounding the X-37B. What exactly it is and what the spaceship looks like is not known. A few days ago there were indications that it would return to Earth after around three months, but so far this has not happened. At the end of October, the Chinese spacecraft released a satellite, commemorating a previous flight that marked the end of the mission.

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