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X-37B secret plane returns to Earth after year-long mystery mission in space

One News Page Staff
Sunday, 17 June 2012

X-37B secret plane returns to Earth after year-long mystery mission in spaceby

A U.S. Air Force space vehicle has returned from a mystery mission in space which lasted more than a year

A U.S. Air Force robotic space plane has returned from a secret mission orbiting Earth for more than a year.

The mini shuttle, named X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle 2, landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5.48am local time on Saturday morning.

The space craft spent 15 months in orbit on a secret mission, the details of which remain classified. Earlier this year, there were reports that the mystery craft was possibly spying on China's space laboratory Tiangong 1.

Officially, the 29-foot-long orbiter is meant to carry out small experiments in space in its payload bay. But given its maneuverability and flexibility, the X-37B spacecraft is capable of doing much more, including cargo deliveries to the ISS, spying on orbiting or Earth-based targets and even tampering with other satellites.


The unmanned X-37B spacecraft returned to Earth from a secret mission in space in the early hours of Saturday

The U.S. military shuttle may soon have competition, however: China is developing its own space plane called Shenlong.

As part of its ambitious space program, China launched three astronauts to its Tiangong 1 space lab on Friday.
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