After nearly 2.5 years in orbit, a US military space drone landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, according to Boeing. After its initial flight in 2010, the unmanned X-37B shuttle has since completed six missions and logged more than 1.3 billion miles in space, according to a statement from Boeing.
General Chance Saltzman, head of space operations, said that this mission “highlights the Space Force’s priority on collaboration in space research and providing low-cost access to space for our partners, within and outside of the Department of the Air Force.”
The X-37B was developed for the Air Force by United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and launched covertly. It is solar-powered, 30 feet (9 metres) long and has a 15-foot wingspan.
The Pentagon mentioned a number of scientific studies the shuttle would do prior to its final launch in May 2020. According to the army, the objective of the mission was to convert solar radiation into radio-electric energy, test how various materials behave in space, and evaluate how ambient space radiation impacts a variety of seeds.