US: The Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane surpassed its previous space endurance record as it continues stay in lower earth orbit. The current unmanned space mission has lasted 471 days, as of March 28, and counting. Launched on Dec. 11, 2012, the unmanned space shuttle surpassed its previous record on Mar. 26 while conducting the Orbital Test Vehicle 3 (OTV-3) mission, the third flight of the space programme. The previous record of 469 days was set by OTV-2, which was launched in 2011. The X-37B is designed to explore the use of a reusable space vehicle in support of long-term space objectives. The programme was originally funded by Boeing, NASA, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and was transferred to the Air Force in 2004. The X-37B utilizes the same lifting-body design. At about one-fourth of the size of the original shuttle, the spacecraft has a small payload bay that measures seven feet long by four feet wide.
It has been widely speculated that the X-37B could be carrying intelligence or scientific payloads as a test vehicle for new space-based surveillance technologies. However, the Air Force will have plenty of data on hand for examining in-flight capabilities and the long-term effects on system components and future payloads as the X-37B continues to spend time in space.
Source: Defense systems