itwbennett (1594911) writes "A little-known U.S. space plane quietly broke its own space endurance record this week as its current unmanned mission surpassed 469 days in space. What it was doing up there for so long is a secret closely held by the Air Force, but Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an authority on satellites and launches, thinks it's serving a similar role as the space shuttle by carrying a science or intelligence payload. 'I believe it's testing some kind of experimental sensor for the National Reconnaissance Office; for example, a hyperspectral imager, or some new kind of signals intelligence package,' said McDowell. 'The sensor was more successful than expected, so the payload customer asked the X-37 folks to keep the spacecraft in orbit longer.'"
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