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Photo Gallery: X-37B lands at historic Shuttle Landing Facility

Deimos Imaging captured this image of Kennedy Space Center and the Shuttle Landing Facility via one of its satellites. The photo was taken a day after the X-37B landed. Photo Credit: Deimos Imaging

Deimos Imaging captured this image of Kennedy Space Center and the Shuttle Landing Facility via one of its satellites. The photo was taken a day after the X-37B landed. Photo Credit: Deimos Imaging

Heralding its arrival to Florida residents early Sunday morning with a sonic boom, the U.S. Air Force’s secretive X-37B landed at Kennedy Space Center’s historic Shuttle Landing Facility. Touchdown took place at about 7:47 a.m. EDT (11:47 GMT) May 7, 2017.

This was the first landing of a returning spacecraft on the runway since the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down on July 21, 2011, concluding the Space Shuttle Program.

For this mission, Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) 4, the X-37B spent a record-breaking 718 days in orbit. The Air Force has a fleet of two of these Boeing-built spacecraft. This was the second flight for this particular vehicle, which was the second one built, and the fourth overall for the program (the first flight, OTV-1, took place in 2010).

Both vehicles weigh around 11,000 pounds (4,990 kilograms) and are about 29 feet (8.8 meters) long with a wingspan of about 15 feet (4.5 meters).

This flight launched on May 20, 2015, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. The vehicle’s first mission flew for 468 days starting on March 5, 2011.

While the exact nature of the program is classified, it is managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. The X-37B program has a purpose of developing reusable spacecraft technologies while experimenting in risk reduction and concept of operations studies.

The following photos were captured by the U.S. Air Force.

Engineer's in Hazmat suits begin the process of safing the X-37B after landing. Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

Engineer’s in Hazmat suits begin the process of safing the X-37B after landing. Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

 

OTV-4 Landing

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

 

OTV-4 Transport to KSC

The X-37B is towed to its hangar at Kennedy Space Center. Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

 

OTV-4 KSC

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

 

OTV-4 OPF-1 Hangar

The X-37B is stored in Orbiter Processing Facility 1, which was one of three hangars used for the Space Shuttles. The Air Force has leased both OPF-1 and OPF-2. Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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