June 16, 2012
The U.S. military’s unmanned X-37B robotic space shuttle returned from orbit at 5:48 a.m. in California (1248 GMT)from a secretive 15-month test flight, Air Force officials said on Saturday.
The miniature space plane, also known as Orbital Test Vehicle-2, or OTV-2, touched down at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles. It was only the second U.S. vehicle to make an autonomous runway landing from space.
“With the retirement of the space shuttle fleet, the X-37B OTV program brings a singular capability to space technology development,” said Lieutenant Colonel Tom McIntyre, X-37B program manager. “The return capability allows the Air Force to test new technologies without the same risk commitment faced by other programs. We’re proud of the entire team’s successful efforts to bring this mission to an outstanding conclusion.”