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The Air Force’s X-37B mini-shuttle presently in orbit has now set a new record for the spacecraft’s longest flight.
The X-37B space plane currently in orbit in flying the Orbital Test Vehicle 3 (OTV-3) mission, the third long-duration flight of the unmanned Air Force spaceflight program. The miniature space shuttle launched on Dec. 11, 2012 and is surpassed the record for longest X-37B spaceflight on Wednesday (March 26). Until now, the record for the longest X-37B mission is 469 days, set by the program’s OTV-2 mission that was launched in 2011.
The OTV-3 mission in orbit today now uses the first of the Air Force’s two X-37B space plane vehicles. The same spacecraft was used to fly the first-ever X-37B mission (the 225-day OTV-1 flight in 2010), while a second vehicle flew the longer OTV-2 mission a year later.