Records are falling for the US space force’s robotic X-37B spacecraft.
Today (July 7), d X-37B Has been in Earth orbit for 3 days, breaking its previous record of 5. The reusable car, designed and built by Boeing, is now flying in its sixth mission, the Orbital Test Weekly-3 or OTV-6. Started On May 17, 2020.
Boing space Announced today (Opens in new tab) The spacecraft wrote on Twitter that it had “set another record of endurance – as it did in 2010 on every mission for the first time” while also thanking the US Air Force. US Air ForceAnd other members of the X-37B team.
Related: US Space Force X-37B spacecraft: 10 amazing facts
781 days and counting! The world’s only reusable spacecraft, # X37B, set another tolerance record – as it launched in 2010 for the first time on any mission. Congratulations to @USAirForce, pSpaceForceDOD and all our teammates who support X-Ray. 37B! #SemperSupra pic.twitter.com/zzZAOG0Wa5July 1, 2
The current mission of the X-37B includes many confidential payments, but some of its on-board experiences have been made public. One such experiment was commissioned last year by the U.S. Marine Research Laboratory. Photovoltaic radio frequency antenna modelOr PRAM, a small device the size of a pizza box aimed at converting solar power into a microwave that can then beam back to Earth from orbit.
Other pilots launched on OTV-6 include those designed by the United States Air Force Academy. FalconSat-8 satellite (Opens in new tab) Which itself has five experimental pilots, and two NASA experiments designed for impact testing. Radiation Evaluate the effects of space on plant seeds and on different materials.
The overall design of the X-37B is similar to NASA’s now retired design SpacecraftAlthough the X-37B is much smaller: the military spacecraft measures 29 feet (8.8 meters) long and 9.5 feet (2.9 meters) long, and has wings less than 15 feet (4.6 meters).
At launch, the X-37B weighed 11,000 pounds (4,990 kg). The X-37B is designed to operate at altitudes ranging from 150 to 500 miles (240 to 805 kilometers). The craft has fully automatic orbit and underground capabilities and a complete electric mechanical control system that eliminates the need for hydraulics. in a Company fact sheet (Opens in new tab)Boeing calls the X-37B “one of the world’s newest and most advanced spacecraft.”
While there are rumors or theories that the X-37B may or may not be a test bed for orbital weapons. Capturing the opposite satelliteExperts Doubt these claimsArguing that the aircraft is too small and not usable for these roles. The main role of the spacecraft is likely to include testing new sensor systems and other technologies in orbit, as U.S. military officials have long claimed.
While the OTV-6 has just set a new era record for the X-37B program, 781 days is far from the total space flight mark. Most Earth observation satellites have been in operation for 10 years or more, for example, and NASA Voyager 3 And the Voyager 2 spacecraft is still alive almost six years after it was launched into space.