X-37B secret plane: Mission extended for unknown reason

The X-37B secret plane was supposed to land 270 days after launch, but its mission is extended for unknown reason and exact landing date in sight.

X-37B, Secret Plane, NASA, Spacecraft, Extended Mission
X-37B on a Runway
Image Credit: U.S. Air Force
According to several news sites, the U.S. Airforce Rapid Capabilities Office has decided to extend the mission of the secretive X-37B experimental robotic space craft, which is quietly set its own space orbital record.

The X-37B secret plane, also known as Orbital Test Vehicle-2, is unmanned space craft that was built by Boeing Phantom Works division and Intelligence Systems unit in Huntington Beach. It is a 29-foot space plane that is the second of its kind, and has been circling the Earth since its launch atop an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida first quarter this year.

The U.S. Air Force has said that the X-37B is used to test new technologies in space, but various industry analysts believe that it is a test unit for potential orbiting weapon.

"We initially planned for a nine-month mission, which we are roughly at now, but we will continue to extend the mission as circumstances allow," said Lt. Col Tom McIntyre, the spacecraft's systems program director. "Keeping the X-37 in orbit will provide us with additional experimentation opportunities and allow us to extract the maximum value out of the mission."

"We are learning new things about the vehicle every day, which makes the mission a very dynamic process."

The X-37B is the second launched by the military and still orbiting the Earth. The first one is launched in April 2010 and it landed 224 days later on its own at Vandenberg.

X-37B secret plane: Mission extended for unknown reason


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