Secret mission accomplished: Space plane to land after a year in orbit

The U.S Air Force’s top secret unmanned space plane will land in June 2012 – ending a year-long highly classified mission in the orbit of Earth.

The experimental Boeing X37-B spacecraft has been circling Earth at 17,000 miles per hour and was due to land in California last December. It is now expected to land in mid to late June.

At launch, the space plane was accompanied by staff in mysterious biohazard suits, leading to speculation that there had been radioactive components on board.

The Vandenberg staff are prepared to execute safe landing operations anytime and at a moment’s notice,’ said Colonel Nina Armagno of the U.S. Air Force’s Space Wing.

The plane resembles a mini space shuttle and is the second to fly in space.

It was meant to land in March, but the mission of the X-37B orbital test car was extended – for unknown causes.

The first one landed last December at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California after more than seven months in orbit.

Sources and more information:

• Air Force’s Secretive X-37B Space Plane Will Land Soon

Air Force’s Secretive X-37B Space Plane Will Land Soon by Leonard David,’s Space Insider Columnist Date: 30 May 2012 Time: 03:45 PM ET FOLLOW US SHARE Now being readied for an orbital shakeout, the X-37B (shown here in an illustration) is an unpiloted military space plane. Launched from Florida, the vehicle will make an auto-touchdown…

• Super Secretive X-37B Space Plane To Land [Infographic]

After the shuttle program ended, spaceflight dominance for the United States looked to be in jeopardy. Then came the X-37B. This mini space shuttle looks like it could be the future of what we can look forward to in the near future for military space aircraft. The X-37B is a reusable shuttle with a payload bay about the size of a pickup truck.

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• Secret mission accomplished: Space plane to land after a year in orbit

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