By Leonard David
The U.S. Air Force's mysterious unmanned space plane has winged beyond 600 days in orbit on a classified military mission that seems to have no end.
The X-37B space plane is carrying out the Orbital Test Vehicle-3 (OTV-3) mission, a long-duration cruise that marks the third flight for the unpiloted Air Force spaceflight program.
The Air Force launched the miniature space shuttle into orbit on Dec. 11, 2012 using an expendable Atlas 5 rocket. By the end of Friday (Aug. 29), the space plane had spent 627 days in orbit. That's one year, eight months, 19 days and counting, to be exact.
"The Air Force continues to push the envelope of the solar-powered X-37B capabilities," said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Amateur Skywatcher Spots X-37B Space Plane:
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