Spacecraft on secret mission to land at Vandenberg
October 15, 2014
An unmanned U.S. Air Force spacecraft on a classified mission is expected to land at Vandenberg Air Force Base, possibly as soon as this week. [Pacific Coast Business Times]
The Boeing-built X-37B robotic space plane launched on a rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida in December 2012. The spacecraft’s appearance resembles a miniature space shuttle.
It is 29 feet long and nearly 10 feet high with a 14-foot wingspan. The plane weighs about 5.5 tons.
The Boeing spacecraft can remain in the air for long periods of time while drawing power from an array of solar panels.
Air Force officials say the space plane is testing reusable spacecraft technologies and conducting experiments that can return to earth for examination. The Air Force has not released further details about the mission, but there has been speculation that the plane is testing space weapons or spy gear.
The X-37B’s landing will likely mark one of the last times such a craft lands at Vandenberg. The Air Force is looking to relocate the program to recently leased space at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.