Top secret US spacecraft returns after 7-month trip

The US Air Force`s X-37B unmanned spaceplane has returned to Earth after more than 7 months in orbit.

Last Updated: Dec 04, 2010, 00:07 AM IST

Vandenberg Air Force Base (California): The US Air Force`s secrecy-shrouded X-37B unmanned spaceplane has returned to Earth after more than seven months in orbit on a classified mission.
Air Force spokesman Jeremy Eggers says the winged craft autonomously landed at 1:16 am PST (0916 GMT) today at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The X-37B was launched by an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on April 22, 2010, with a maximum mission duration of 270 days.

Also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, the Boeing-built spacecraft was originally a NASA project before being taken over by the military.

The Air Force has not said whether it carried anything in its cargo bay, but insists the primary purpose of the mission was to test the craft itself.

PTI