HomeAstronomy & SpaceUnmanned, solar-powered US space plane back after 908 days

Unmanned, solar-powered US space plane back after 908 days

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After a record 908 days in orbit, the Space Force’s X-37B ship landed Saturday at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

Boeing’s reusable spaceship design has now travelled 1.3 billion miles in 3,774 days in space over six missions. Its most recent mission was the first with a service module, which aided its landing. It wad launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in May 2020. The force of the landing created a sonic boom that echoed throughout Florida.

“The X-37B was launched in 2010. Since then, it has broken records and provided our nation with an unparalleled capability to rapidly test and integrate new space technologies,” said Boeing Space and Launch Senior Vice President Jim Chilton in a statement. “With the addition of the service module, this was the most we’ve ever carried to orbit on the X-37B. We’re proud to have been able to demonstrate this new and flexible capability for the government and its industry partners.”

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The mission included collaboration with the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office. They conducted a solar energy experiment as well as other experiments on the FalconSat-8 satellite. It has been in orbit since October 2021. The experiments, according to Gen. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations, will contribute to “space exploration and expanding low-cost access to space for our partners.”

This landing comes after Hurricane Nicole forced NASA to postpone its Artemis 1 for the fourth time. It was a planned to launch from the Kennedy Space Center.

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