VIDEO: Top Secret Air Force Spaceplane Lands With Sonic Boom After 2-Year Clandestine Mission
After 718 consecutive days of being in orbit, the X-37B spacecraft landed on Sunday morning at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The 29-foot-long spacecraft’s return caused a sonic boom that rattled central Florida and could be heard as far away as Tampa and Fort Myers.
The unmanned spacecraft had been orbiting Earth since May 2015 and was just 12 days shy of being in space for a full two years. The Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) beat its own previous record of 674 days in orbit set in October of 2014. This was the X-37B’s fourth secret mission, but first landing in Florida. Previous X-37B missions have landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The spaceplane has now spent 2,085 days in orbit since its first mission in April of 2010.
While the landing was widely known thanks to a ground-shaking sonic boom, there is not much known about the unmanned spacecraft or its mission. Even the X-37B spacecraft’s budget is secret.