This Friday, a top-secret space plane landed at an air force base on the southern California coast. The plane has spent almost two years circling around the Earth on a secret mission. The space plane is known as the X-37B which resembles a mini space shuttle. It safely touched down at 9.24am at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Many experts have speculated that it carried a payload of spy gear in its cargo bay. Other speculations sound straight out of a James Bond film, including that the spacecraft would be able to capture the satellites of other nations or shadow China’s space lab. While, the air force only said it had been conducting “on-orbit experiments”.
The X-37B program dates back to 1999 and has been between several federal agencies, Nasa among them. It now resides under the air force’s rapid capabilities office.
The spacecraft is one of two built by Boeing. It was on its 3rd mission which began in December 2012.
The plane stands 9.5ft tall and is just over 29ft long. It has a wingspan under 15 feet. It weighs 11,000lbs and has solar panels to charge its batteries once in the orbit. The fourth mission of X-37B is expected next year from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Source: The Guardian