The secretive mission of a U.S. Air Force X-37B miniature space plane just winged past 500 days of flight. The robotic drone is performing classified duties during the program’s fifth flight.
The current mission — known as Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-5) — was rocketed into Earth orbit on Sept. 7, 2017, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. [The X-37B Space Plane: 6 Surprising Facts]
X-37B missions are carried out under the auspices of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and mission control for OTV flights is handled by the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. This squadron oversees operations of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.
This Schriever Air Force Base unit is tagged as the Air Force Space Command’s premier organization for space-based demonstrations, pathfinders and experiment testing, gathering information on objects high above Earth and carrying out other intelligence-gathering duties.
And that may be a signal as to what the robotic craft is doing — both looking down at Earth and upward. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Space.com website.