780 days Secret flight : U.S. military space shuttle X-37B returns to Earth

The X-37B military shuttle successfully landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 3:51 a.m. EST (15:51 p.m. EST) on October 27, according to the U.S. Air Force. This is the fifth mission of the X-37B OTV (Orbital Test Vehicle), launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center on September 7, 2017, and was scheduled to fly for 270 days, eventually traveling in space for 780 days (2 years, 1 and a half months), setting a new record.

To date, the X-37B has flown a total of 2,865 days, or more than 7 years and 10 months.


The U.S. Air Force says the X-37B is primarily used for technical testing in long-term space-based environments, and that all missions of the fifth flight were successful, proving once again the importance of repeatable space vehicles.

It is reported that one of the missions of this flight is the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s advanced structure embedded radiator second test (ASETS-II), measuring the performance of oscillating heat pipes in space, its thermal conductivity is 45 times that of copper.


The next flight of the X-37B is scheduled to take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in 2020.

The X-37 was led by NASA from 1999 to 2004 and later transferred to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The U.S. Air Force has made improvements based on NASA’s design, which is the X-37B. The main contractor is Boeing.


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