Friday, 3 December 2010

X-37B US miltary spaceplane returns to Earth

X-37B prototype (US Air Force)The X-37B was launched into orbit seven months ago on a classified mission

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A prototype spaceplane built for the US military has returned to Earth after seven months in orbit.

The unpiloted X-37B touched down at a US Air Force base in California at 0116 PST (0916 GMT).

The project has been shrouded in secrecy, prompting widespread speculation about the craft's purpose.

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.

The X-37B was launched atop an Atlas 5 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 22 April, with a maximum mission duration of 270 days.