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Report: Air Force’s Unmanned Space Plane Close to 500-Day Orbit Mark

NASA's X-37BAn unmanned U.S. Air Force space plane that carries classified payloads is close to the 500th day of its third mission, Space.com reported Friday.

Mike Wall writes one rumor surrounding the plane claims the the solar-powered, robotic X-37B is a weapon designed to capture or damage other satellites.

Wall notes the rumor about X-37B being a space weapon seems unlikely due to its size and design and the plane could instead be a test platform for sensors and satellite technologies.

An X-37B fact sheet lists the plane’s objectives as testing reusable spacecraft technology and operating experiments that return to Earth for examination, Wall reports.

Built by Boeing’s Phantom Works arm, X-37B is operated by the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office and the plane’s orbital flight mission control is based at Colorado’s Schriever Air Force Base.

According to the report, the ongoing OTV-3 orbital flight that launched on Dec. 11 is said to test technology capabilities such as endurance and turnaround time.

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