X-37B
The U.S. Air Force's X-37B months prior to its Dec. 11, 2012, launch. (CREDIT: U.S. Air Force)

US Air Force’s X-37B Top Secret Shuttle Hits 500 Days in Orbit

U.S. Air Force X-37B surpasses original goal of 270 days in orbit by reaching 500-day mark.

Not much is known about the U.S. Air Force X-37B’s mission, but the mini shuttle recently eclipsed 500 days in orbit.

Multiple media outlets reported that the X-37B was supposed to be in orbit for only 270 days after launching on Dec. 11, 2012. However, the shuttle has withstood the conservative initial goals and may have a significant amount of time ahead of it, although the Air Force declined to comment on how much longer it would orbit.

According to Space.com:

Like the space shuttle, the X-37B launches vertically with the aid of a rocket, then returns to Earth horizontally for a runway landing. While the shuttle needed a pilot, however, the X-37B comes home autonomously, without any guidance from human hands.

Discovery.com reported that “the Air Force says it is using the experimental space plane to test technologies,” but provided no additional details.

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