The Air Force’s second mini space shuttle landed today at Vandenberg Air Force Base after spending 469 days circling the planet.
The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is an unmanned autonomous reusable space plane with a 15-foot wingspan and a length of 29 feet.
Landing occurred at 5:48 a.m. today, Air Force officials said.
“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. “I am so proud our team for coming together to execute this landing operation safely and successfully."
The return to earth was expected to create a sonic boom that may be heard on parts of the Central Coast.
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Several attempts earlier this month have been foiled by high winds blowing across the Central Coast and other weather-related issued.
Air Force officials had said the window for landing extends to Monday, June 18.
The vehicle has been in space since March 2011, hitching a ride aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
“With the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, the X-37B OTV program brings a singular capability to space technology development,” said Lt. Col. Tom McIntyre, X-37B program manager. “The return capability allows the Air Force to test new technologies without the same risk commitment faced by other programs. We’re proud of the entire team’s successful efforts to bring this mission to an outstanding conclusion.”