The X-37B mini-space shuttle breaks its record for duration in orbit on a single mission

During its sixth mission in space (the Orbital Test Vehicle-6), the X-37B mini space shuttle, developed by Boeing on behalf of the Pentagon, broke its own record for duration in orbit a few days ago. . The machine has indeed spent 784 days in space since its launch by a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket on May 17, 2020. The previous record – 780 days in orbit – dated from October 2019; the launch had been ensured by a SpaceX rocket. As a reminder, the X-37B is a mini-space shuttle 8.8 m long and weighing 5 tonnes which can land automatically like an airplane.

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In addition to its missions in orbit over extremely long periods for a reusable device, the X-37B is surrounded by a veritable “halo” of secrecy. Some of the payloads of the device are indeed still unknown and part of the mission remains classified. We know all the same that the space vehicle carries with it the satellite FalconSat-8 developed by theU.S. Air Force Academywhich should make it possible to test the effects of radiation on seeds or certain materials.

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