The US Air-Force’s ultra-secret X-37B has finally returned to earth after a mission of unknown purposes that lasted over two years. As Fox News reports:
Mission 5 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster on Sept. 7, 2017.
The solar-powered spaceplane was designed to spend 270 days in orbit, according to the Air Force. Space.com noted that most of its payloads remain classified.
The Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane just autonomously returned from orbit after a record-breaking mission. For the last 780 days, it’s been running classified experiments. https://t.co/UiTNEmvn4c
— WIRED (@WIRED) October 29, 2019
“The X-37B continues to demonstrate the importance of a reusable spaceplane,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, in a statement. “Each successive mission advances our nation’s space capabilities.”
The Air Force is planning to launch a sixth X-37B from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in 2020.
It should be noted that the Space plane in question is not part of NASA’s inventory but is rather a top-secret project run exclusively by the US air force. What exactly it was doing for the two years it was in space is currently unknown.