by Jon Skillings
The X-37B space plane touched down at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday (Oct. 17) at 9:24 a.m. local Pacific time (12:24 p.m. EDT; 1624 GMT), ending a mission that kicked off in December 2012 and saw the unmanned vehicle circle Earth for an unprecedented 675 days.
Military Uses X-37B for Secret Mission
The Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, wrapping up its second long-duration mission and the secretive program’s third flight overall, touched down at 12:24 p.m. EDT (GMT-4; 9:24 a.m. local time), rolling to a stop a few moments later.
Other than a brief Air Force statement last Friday announcing landing preparations at Vandenberg, there was no advance warning of the space plane’s re-entry and, in keeping with the secrecy surrounding the program, no details on what the spacecraft might have been doing during its nearly two years aloft.
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