Air Force Secret Space Plane Lands in California After Mysterious Mission

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The U.S. Air Force’s robotic X-37B space plane finally returned to Earth Saturday, wrapping up a mysterious mission that lasted more than year in orbit.

The unmanned X-37B spacecraft, also known as Orbital Test Vehicle-2 (OTV-2), glided back to Earth on autopilot, touching down at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5:48 a.m. PDT (8:48 a.m. EDT, 1248 GMT). The landing brought to an end the X-37B program’s second-ever spaceflight, a mission that lasted more than 15 months with objectives that remain shrouded in secrecy.

This secrecy has led to some speculation, especially online and abroad, that the X-37B could be a space weapon of some sort — perhaps a sophisticated satellite-killer. Some experts also suspect that the vehicle may be an orbital spy platform.
The Air Force, however, has worked to tamp down such speculation, stressing repeatedly that the X-37B isn’t doing anything nefarious hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface.

Read more at MSNBC

© 2012, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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