Secretive Air Force Spaceplane Breaks Record With 719 Straight Days In Orbit

The US Air Force's shadowy X-37B space plane has broken a spaceflight record

US Air Force's mysterious X-37B space plane sets new record after spending 717 days in orbit

The space plane itself, built by Boeing, is 29 feet long and 9.6 feet tall, boasting a wingspan of almost 15 feet.

For now, you'll either have to accept the official explanation, or just get comfortable with the knowledge that there's a mysterious space drone flying high above our heads, and only the USA military knows why.

As of 6:43am Tuesday ET, the X-37B spaceplane's fifth mission, dubbed the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-5), will have spent 719 days in orbit - just 11 days shy of a full two years circling the globe.

With each flight mission launched, the X-37B has remained in orbit for longer periods of time as the Air Force looks to push its endurance.

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One expert has suggested that this aircraft could already be part of an early US Space Force.

What, exactly, the experimental spacecraft has been doing for nearly exactly two years straight has puzzled analysts who can only speculate about the Pentagon's ambitions over the low-orbit vehicle.

'Ironically, the X-37B is exactly the type of program - toward giving the US flexibility of operations in space - that seems to be prompting the current push for a Space Force, yet are already underway, ' said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor in the National Security Affairs Department at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, writes Space.com.

'The many firsts on this mission make the upcoming OTV launch a milestone for the program, ' said Randy Walden, the director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office at the launch past year.

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"The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold; reusable spacecraft technologies for America's future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth", the Air Force said in a statement.

The X-37B is clearly state of the art while up in space. All of the details about the X-37B mission are classified.

The previous OTV-4 mission was 718 days long.

Officials don't necessarily want to reuse the same X-37B plane multiple times, but the Air Force designed the crafts to try out new navigation systems as well as methods for reentering the Earth's atmosphere and for landing safely back on earth.

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It is orbiting at around 200 miles (320 kilometres) high.

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