A pilotless space plane developed by the United States (US) Air Force has landed safely back on Earth after spending 469 days in orbit, officials said.
The robotic X-37B, a sort of miniature space shuttle weighing just five tonnes and measuring some 8.8m long, touched down on Saturday at Vandenberg Air Force Base in western California, the Air Force said in a statement.
`The vehicle was designed for a mission duration of about 270 days,` said X-37B programme manager Lieutenant-Colonel Tom McIntyre of the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV).
The reusable plane had launched from Cape Canaveral in southern Florida in March 2011 carrying `secret` equipment, feeding media speculation about its true mission.
BdST 2238 HRS, JUN 18, 2012
Sabbin Hasan, ICT Editor
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