An unmanned spacecraft developed by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the US Air Force (USAF) just celebrated its first anniversary in space. The Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (X-37B OTV-2) has been in space for over 12 months.
Dubbed USA-226, this is only the second flight ever conducted with this type of drone. The first one was called USA-212, lasted from April 7 to December 3, 2010. It demonstrated that the X-37B could handle prolonged exposures to the tough conditions present in low-Earth orbit.
The USAF is keeping mum about what these spacecraft will do for the United States. The organization says that both X-37Bs are being used to validate certain orbital technologies, including propulsion systems, power generation, and so on.
In the meantime, a third OTV is currently being readied for launch. Some believe that it may launched by the end of 2012. The USAF did not say when it expected OTV-2 to return to Earth, Space