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Secretive Space Plane Left in 2017, Just Returned

Air Force's X-37B spent 780 days aloft
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 28, 2019 1:05 PM CDT
Space Plane Back on Earth After a Record 2 Years
In this Oct. 27, 2019 photo released by the Air Force, the X-37B successfully lands at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on Merritt Island in Brevard County, Fla., following a record-breaking two-year mission.   (U.S. Air Force via AP)

(Newser) – The Air Force's mystery space plane is back on Earth, following a record-breaking two-year mission. The X-37B landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Sunday, per the AP. The Air Force is mum about what the unmanned plane did in orbit after launching aboard a SpaceX rocket in 2017. The 780-day mission sets an endurance record for the reusable test vehicle, which looks like a space shuttle but is one-fourth the size at 29 feet. Officials say this latest mission successfully completed its objectives, without specifying them. Experiments from the Air Force Research Laboratory were aboard. This was the fifth spaceflight by a vehicle of this sort. No. 6 is planned next year with another launch from Cape Canaveral. (The previous record was 718 days.)

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