After a whopping 671 days in orbit around our planet, the U.S. Air Force’s mystery-shroud X-37B space plane will land.
The Orbital Test Vehicle, as the X-37B is also named, is set to land at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Air Force officials there have had about 2 years to prepare for the homecoming after this teeny version of the shuttle was put into orbit in December of 2012.
“Team Vandenberg stands ready to implement safe landing operations for the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, the third time for this unique mission” quoted Col. Keith Baits, 30th Space Wing commander in a statement on Friday
(See More:PREPARATIONS UNDERWAY FOR X-37B LANDING)
But what has the X-37B been doing for nearly two years up there in space? Answer? Flying secret missions. And the US Air Force has been putting this mystery drone into space for flights – of which the goals and purposes we aren’t privy to – since 2010.
What this little space shuttle and his twin can do is not known to the general world public, but two can fit into a single payload bay of a NASA shuttle, each only measuring about 29 feet long and 9.5 feet high, and a wing span of 15 feet. And each X-37B has a payload bay about the size of a pickup truck bed. They rely on solar array panels to generate their power and are autonomous landing spacecraft upon descent to Earth. Talk about YIKES.
So what do some people speculate that this mini-shuttle is doing? How about watching every single corner of the globe?
Though all X-37B missions have returned for landing to the California Vanderberg Air Force Base, Boeing may make the retired NASA shuttle hangar available at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida near the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where they have been launching all of the X-37B flights.
H/T: Fox News