(SPACE.COM) The U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane finally returned to Earth Saturday (June 16), 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.
Air Force officials announced the X-37B space plane's successful landing in a brief statement posted on the Vandenberg website and emailed to reporters.
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"Team Vandenberg has put in over a year's worth of hard work in preparation for this landing and today we were able to see the fruits of our labor," said Col. Nina Armagno, 30th Space Wing commander at Vandenberg. "I am so proud of our team for coming together to execute this landing operation safely and successfully." [Photos: Air Force's 2nd Secret X-37B Mission]