The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) set a new endurance record on Saturday, landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center after spending 908 days in orbit. The uncrewed flight was the sixth for the Boeing-built vehicle, which has now traveled over 1.3 billion miles and logged 3,774 days in space. According to Boeing, the mission hosted a solar energy experiment designed by the Naval Research Lab and multiple NASA experiments including evaluations of the effects of space exposure on various materials and seeds. In addition to the experiments, the X-37B successfully deployed a satellite designed and built by U.S. Air Force Academy cadets in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory.
“Since the X-37B’s first launch in 2010, it has shattered records and provided our nation with an unrivaled capability to rapidly test and integrate new space technologies,” said Jim Chilton, Boeing Space and Launch senior vice president. “With the service module added, this was the most we’ve ever carried to orbit on the X-37B and we’re proud to have been able to prove out this new and flexible capability for the government and its industry partners.”
The X-37B program is conducted via a partnership between the U.S Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and the U.S. Space Force. Prior to its sixth mission, the longest the vehicle had spent in orbit was 780 days. As previously reported by AVweb, the team behind the X-37B was awarded the 2019 Robert J. Collier Trophy.