The US Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center after 780 days in orbit.

The US Air Force say that the spaceplane conducted on-orbit experiments for 780 days during its mission, recently breaking its own record by being in orbit for more than two years. As of today, the total number of days spent on-orbit for the entire test vehicle program is 2,865 days.

“The X-37B continues to demonstrate the importance of a reusable spaceplane,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett in a release.

“This program continues to push the envelope as the world’s only reusable space vehicle. With a successful landing today, the X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully completed all mission objectives,” said Randy Walden, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director.

“This mission successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites.”

While the complete payload for OTV-5 is unknown, the US Air Force announced that one experiment flying is the ‘Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader II’, which apparently measures the performance of an oscillating heat pipe.

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Andy P

I’ve had flights like that, usually with the budget airlines right enough. 😉


What’s an ‘oscillating heat pipe’? Wonder if they fit onto the Fallopian Tubes the young matelot (in Britain’s Biggest Warship) was looking for?

Andy P

I’m guessing its adjacent to the Biffins bridge, you just need to treat it right.


ah – another student of the profanasoarus rex per chance?

Nick C

I did find that part of the programme very funny. As good as a young chef being sent to the caterer for Mulligas for the Tawny soup, or volunteers to train as “splash target coxswain”. The rest of the programme was pretty good too.

Daniele Mandelli

Like the SBS apparently, the Splash Target Coxswains!


Oddly enough, that is a valid request. The name itself is from the Tamil Language which translates to “Chilli-pepper water.” The “Mulligas” would be the chilli peppers and “Tawny” would be water.
Of course, British mulligatawny soup has little if any resemblance or taste to the original from India…

Nick C

You should learn something new every day, and I just have !


An oscillating heat pipe is a relatively new technique in transferring heat through entropic action. Oscillating Heat Pipes (OHPs) or Pulsating Heat Pipes (PHPs) are passive heat transfer devices where the heat transfer is significantly higher compared to a general heat transfer device such as metal fins on radiators. Unlike a normal cooling system which is completely filled. The PHP uses an uneven mix of “bubbles” = plugs and liquids = slugs. The main reason for this is the oscillatory motion of liquid slugs and vapour plugs travelling along miniature tubes bent into many turns. This causes a two phase… Read more »


Gosh! It’s said that we should try to learn something new every day and I can’t think of anything better than oscillating pipes to brighten my day. Thanks Davey (I mean that) for your very lucid explanation.


What is the purpose of this plane? Destroy satellites, spy and/or drop nukes from high altitude? Because i don’t buy the “providing a ride for small satellites” at all since we have a variety of rockets to do that already


dumping plastic waste and compressed co2

Daniele Mandelli

From the photo’s I see of ground crew post landing, I have always been curious why they are in full CBRN gear?

I do not recall the Space Shuttles attendants in similar attire?

I have always assumed one of the roles of this is putting miniature satellites for the NSA and NRO in orbit.

Nick C

It could be because of the possibility of leaks from whatever it is carrying. I seem to recall that you can use Nitric Acid as an oxidiser in something like the manoeuvring system, and that would be nasty stuff to deal with if it got out.

Daniele Mandelli

Ah, cheers Nick.

Joseph R

likely carries some hypergolic fuel, namely hydrazine.


I’m sure we’ll find out in about 30 years!


Well you youngesters might, but’ll have probably forgotten all about it by then! Now where did I leave me glasses..! 🙂