X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle will continue its mission past the initially intended 270 days of its operation. However, Air Force officials have not declared the extended time yet. The Orbital Test Vehicle will land on the Vandenburg Air Force Base located in California. It started its journey from Cape Canaveral and the timeline was set for a span of 270 days.
The extension has been announced by Lt. Col. Tom McIntyre, who is the systems program director for X-37B. "We initially planned for a nine-month mission, which we are roughly at now, but we will continue to extend the mission as circumstances allow. Keeping the X-37 in orbit will provide us with additional experimentation opportunities and allow us to extract the maximum value out of the mission," he said in the announcement.
The details of the unmanned mission have not been shared with the media, but the Air Force Base is preparing for its landing that requires careful arrangements. It is the second X-37B spacecraft sent for the mission. The first one was sent last year. The landing of that first X-37B faced a problem with the tire of the spacecraft, so this time greater attention is being given to the landing site to avoid any trouble.
The mission is currently on. The spacecraft is fully functional and providing the team with valuable information. They can take benefit from it till it remains serviceable. According to officials, the extension of the mission will give them details that they did not plan to acquire, but are useful for them. They said they can utilize the resources to their maximum by carrying on with the spacecraft flight.
The Air Force considers this spacecraft an important element in developing their capabilities for military operations. It was conceived by NASA, but the scarcity of funds transferred it to the Air Force. It operates on its own without human intervention. It is launched through a rocket and can land on the ground in a horizontal position.
The Space and Intelligence Systems division of Boeing has assembled the vehicle which is capable of staying in the space for a longer duration. It is powered by a solar array that enables it to keep functioning for a long time.