The US Air Force's mysterious spacecraft lands in orbit after 780 days
The exact details of these experiments are a closely guarded secret. In a statement, the Air Force only announced that the program "carries out risk mitigation, experimentation and concept development for reusable spacecraft technologies".
This is the fifth X-37B spacecraft that has been orbited in the past decade, with each flight longer than its predecessor.
"Our team has prepared for this event and I am extremely proud that their hard work and commitment culminate in today's safe and successful landing of the X-37B," said Brig. Gen.. Doug Schiess in the statement released on Sunday.
Each mission was top secret, leading to public speculation that the aircraft could be used to spy on activities or test space weapons. 37B Spacecraft Sets New Space Time Record "src-mini =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/1
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The Air Force has given some pointers to its program. A Sunday press release said the latest X-37B mission carried out experiments for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The AFRL, according to its website "Warfighting Technologies" develops for the aerospace and cyberspace industry – for example, laser weapons that may be mounted in aircraft.
We know the following about the X -37B: The vehicle was designed to test new navigation systems and methods for safe re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere and landing.
Previous missions have tested technologies for navigation, thermal protection systems, autonomous orbital flight and reusable insulation Luftwaffe.
The spacecraft X-37B is approximately 29 feet (8.8 meters) long and 9.5 feet (2.9 meters) high, with a span of nearly 15 feet (4.5 meters).
The aircraft also have a unique design. They launch powerful orbs into orbit and then drop off to complete their mission. When they return to Earth, they land horizontally on a runway, such as B. a commercial aircraft or a space shuttle orbiter that comes in for landing. In its Sunday press release, the Air Force announced that it would prepare for the launch of the sixth X-37B mission in 2020.