X-37B Lands in California, Next Mission in the Spring

X-37B Lands in California, Next Mission in the Spring

The Air Force’s X-37B spaceplane returned from its seven month journey in orbit today, landing autonomously at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA early this morning. An Air Force press release said only that it “conducted on-orbit experiments for 220 days during its maiden voyage.”

Launched on April 22, the mission was shrouded in secrecy from the beginning. The X-37 began as a NASA program to build a spaceplane to service the International Space Station (ISS). NASA cancelled it once President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration was announced and it was transferred to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and then to the Air Force where it received a new, classified mission as X-37B.

The Air Force said today that the program will now move into a “refurbishment” phase and the next X-37B mission will be launched next spring.

NASAWatch has a link to some post-landing photos posted on OnOrbit.com.

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