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Military Spaceflight

U.S. Air Force X-37B

Air Force X-37B spacecraft.
X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle
X-37B and Atlas 5 rocket.

The X-37B is designed to be launched vertically, on top of an expendable launch vehicle. All missions conducted so far have flown on Atlas 5 rockets (right). After conducting it mission on orbit, the spacecraft performs a de-orbit burn and returns to a gliding runway landing on Earth.

The spacecraft can remain in orbit for many months. The first mission stayed in orbit for 224 days, while the second flight spent 468 days in space.

Many details of the program remain classified. Publicly announced objectives include testing technologies for reusable spacecraft designs and conducting experiments in orbit and returning those experiments and results to Earth.

The X-37B is built by the Boeing company.

Orbital X-37B Missions
1OTV-1 22 Apr 2010 3 Dec 2010Atlas 5224 DaysTest flight.
2OTV-2 5 Mar 2011 16 Jun 2012Atlas 5468 DaysTest flight.
3OTV-3 11 Dec 2012 In OrbitAtlas 5OngoingTest flight.

Creative Commons License Images by Richard Kruse are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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