A secretive US Space Force unmanned craft landed after almost 2.5 years in orbit

A secretive US Space Force unmanned craft landed after almost 2.5 years in orbit
Space Force's X37-B unmanned spacecraft at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Nov. 12. 2022.U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Adam Shank
  • US Space Force landed the latest of its X-37 unmanned crafts on Saturday, after 908 days in orbit.
  • It entered the atmosphere with a sonic boom at 5 a.m., startling locals who weren't expecting it.

US Space Force landed its secretive X-37B unmanned spacecraft on Saturday after 908 days in orbit.

The 29 foot-long robotic spacecraft, which looks like a smaller version of the US space shuttle, was launched in May 2020. It flew in orbit for four months longer than the previous flight, almost 2.5 years.

It landed in Florida around 5:20 a.m., letting off a sonic boom that startled locals, according to local reports.

This is the sixth time an unmanned craft has been sent in orbit as part of its cryptic X-37 mission. The first of these crafts was launched in 2010 and spent 224 days in orbit per space.com.

According to the US Space Force, X-37B was in space to carry out experiments. One tested the effect of space radiation on seeds onboard the craft. Another successfully beamed solar energy down to earth from space using radiowaves, thanks to a solar panel mounted onboard the OTV.


Beyond the experiments done on board, not much has been revealed about the purpose of the x-37 mission, prompting speculation over the years.

Since 2020, the mission has been run by the US Space Force — the government's space-defense branch of the military set up by Former President Donald Trump.

Its payload and its flight path have been mostly classified, per space.com.

Heather Wilson, former Air Force secretary, said at a conference in 2019, that the X-37 crafts are able to quickly change their direction and dip into the atmosphere to thwart tracking by adversaries.

"We know that that drives them nuts. And I'm really glad about that," she said.