Military Embedded Systems

Autonomous spaceplane mission launches under U.S. Space Force flag


January 02, 2024

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

U.S. Space Force photo

NASA--KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.  The U.S. Space Force successfully launched the X-37B orbital test vehicle (OTV), an autonomous spaceplane, into orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, marking the start of the OTV's seventh mission.

The Space Force reports that the latest tests for the X-37B will include operating in new orbital regimes, experimenting with space domain awareness technologies, and looking at the effects of space radiation on NASA materials.

The Boeing-built X-37B is a reusable, uncrewed spacecraft built with the aim of conducting technology experiments that expedite the development of next-generation capabilities. 

Since its first launch in April 2010, the X-37B has continued to set new endurance records, surpassing the initial design mission duration of 270 days. Its previous mission, which landed in November 2022, set a new orbit record of 908 days. 

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