The U.S. Air Force’s mysterious robotic Boeing X-37B space plane is sailing toward the 500-day mark in Earth orbit on a secret military mission.
The X-37B space plane presently in orbit is carrying out the Orbital Test Vehicle 3 (OTV-3) mission, a classified spaceflight that marks the third long-duration flight for the unmanned Air Force space flight program. The miniature space shuttle launched on Dec. 11, 2012.
The record-breaking X-37B mission now underway uses the first of the Air Force’s two robotic space plane vehicles. This same space plane flew the first-ever X-37B mission (the 225-day OTV-1 flight in 2010), and a second vehicle flew the longer OTV-2 mission in 2011, chalking up 469 days in orbit.
For the complete story by Leonard David of Space.com, click here.
Image by NASA