Boeing said that the X-37B, an unmanned spacecraft belonging to the US Air Force, landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 12, after orbiting the Earth for about two and a half years, and successfully completed its sixth mission.
Agence France-Presse launched the X-37B’s maiden flight in 2010, and has been in charge for more than 10 years, with the spacecraft covering a total of more than 2 billion kilometers on 6 missions. Designed for the Air Force by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the X-37B is a little-known US military program.
“This mission underlines the Space Force’s focus on collaboration in space exploration and providing a cost-effective way to expand into space for our partners inside and outside the Air Force Department,” said Chance Saltzman, head of U.S. space operations.
The unmanned spacecraft, which is 9 meters long and has a wingspan of 4.5 meters, uses solar panels to generate electricity after entering orbit.
Before starting its sixth mission in May 2020, the X-37B went through a number of reviews by the US Department of Defense to conduct a series of scientific studies.
The military said the mission will test how certain materials respond in space, evaluate how radiation from the space environment affects plant seeds, and convert solar radiation into radio electricity.