Unmanned space plane touches down in US

2012-06-16 20:14
An unmanned US Air Force space plane has steered itself to a landing early at a California military base, capping a 15-month clandestine mission. (File, AP)

An unmanned US Air Force space plane has steered itself to a landing early at a California military base, capping a 15-month clandestine mission. (File, AP)

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Los Angeles - An unmanned Air Force space plane steered itself to a landing early on Saturday at a California military base, capping a 15-month clandestine mission.

The spacecraft, which was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in March 2011, conducted in-orbit experiments during the mission, officials said.

It was the second such autonomous landing at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, 209km northwest of Los Angeles.

In 2010, an identical unmanned spacecraft returned to Earth after seven months and 146km in orbit.

The latest homecoming was set in motion when the stubby-winged robotic X-37B fired its engine to slip out of orbit, then pierced through the atmosphere and glided down the runway like an airplane.

Read more on:    us  |  space
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