Descending from space after 674 days in orbit, the Air Force’s autonomous, reusable space plane — the X-37B — touched down at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:24 a.m. Friday morning.

“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 Colnel 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 X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle mission, which is overseen by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, “performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies,” Vandenberg officials said. The Air Force is preparing to launch the fourth X-37B mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in 2015.


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