X-37B Lands Safely at Vandenberg, Mission Remains a Mystery

X-37B after landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 16, 2012. (Credit: Boeing/USAF)
X-37B after landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 16, 2012. (Credit: Boeing/USAF)

The U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane landed safely at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Friday morning, completing a record 674 days in orbit.

The unmanned winged vehicle touched down at 9:24 a.m. PDT after conducting experiments and testing out technologies for 22 months.

“The 30th Space Wing and our mission partners, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, Boeing, and our base support contractors, have put countless hours of hard work into preparing for this landing and today we were able to see the culmination of that dedication,” said base commander Colonel Keith Balts, in a prepared statement. “I’m extremely proud of our team for coming together to execute this third safe and successful landing. Everyone from our on console space operators to our airfield managers and civil engineers take pride in this unique mission and exemplify excellence during its execution.”

The Air Force is planning a fourth X-37B flight in 2015. Officials recently announced they would consolidate program operations at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the X-37 vehicles are launched.