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X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Seventh Mission

The Boeing-built X-37B launches from Kennedy Space Center on December 28, 2023, aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy [SpaceX photo]

Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle embarks on seventh mission to expand the United States Space Force’s knowledge of the space environment.

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Press Release, Kennedy Space Center, 29 December 2023: The Boeing-built X-37B autonomous spaceplane launched yesterday aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, marking the beginning of its seventh mission.

“The X-37B government and Boeing teams have worked together to produce a more responsive, flexible, and adaptive experimentation platform,” said William D. Bailey, Director, Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. “The work they’ve done to streamline processes and adapt evolving technologies will help our nation learn a tremendous amount about operating in and returning from a space environment.”

As it has with every mission, the Orbital Test Vehicle will validate new technologies, fostering innovation and pushing the boundaries of space exploration and utility. On this seventh flight, the X-37B will test future space domain awareness technology experiments that are integral in ensuring safe, stable and secure operations in space for all users of the domain.

“The technological advancements we’re driving on X-37B will benefit the broader space community, especially as we see increased interest in space sustainability,” said Michelle Parker, Space Mission Systems vice president at Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We are pushing innovation and capability that will influence the next generation of spacecraft.”

Since its inaugural launch in April 2010, the X-37B has consistently set new endurance records, surpassing the initial design mission duration of 270 days. Its sixth mission set a new record with an impressive 908-day journey before returning to Earth in November 2022.

The X-37B, which will now build on its more than 1.3 billion miles travelled during its 3,774 days in space, exemplifies the successful partnership between the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and the United States Space Force. Boeing teams deliver programme management, engineering, production, test and mission support.

In 2019, the X-37B was awarded the Robert J. Collier Trophy for advancing the performance, efficiency and safety of air and space vehicles.

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