VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE — The U.S. Air Force’s classified and unmanned X-37B spacecraft landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:16 a.m. PST. The spaceplane landed after a successful first flight that lasted over seven months.
The X-37B is a stubby-winged, robotic spacecraft that is in many ways similar to the space shuttle – except the fact that it is far smaller and needs no crew to operate. As with much everything else involving this flight – little information was given about the landing excluding some images and some infrared video showing the small spaceplane coming to a landing at the air base.
The Air Force has made sure to highlight the fact that the craft which launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this past April was on a shake down flight meant to test out the viability of the craft’s design. When the X-37B did land, technicians swarmed over and ‘safed’ the vehicle – much in the same way as the space shuttle is handled post-flight.
Whether or not the craft carried anything in its payload bay – was not revealed. The Air Force did say that the X-37B completed all of its objectives successfully. It was also announced that the next X-37B could launch to orbit – as soon as next spring.