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The spaceplane is now back on solid ground, and apparently it completed all of its orbital objectives during its seven month trip, which were supposedly mostly diagnostic self-tests. According to The Man, anyway. Still, we could swear we spotted some laser blast holes and a self-satisfied, Tom Cruisian smirk on the X-37B when it thought nobody was looking, which confirms all of our worst suspicions: there is extraterrestrial life, and it's totally badass, and only highly trained space fighter jockeys can save us.
The ability of the US Air Force to operate in the high ground of space may have taken a leap forward on Thursday as the X-37 unmanned spacecraft successfully roared into the heavens atop an Atlas V rocket.The X37b space plane launch took place at 7:52 PM Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The big Atlas rocket’s boosters lit up the twilight in what officials termed a flawless launch. “This launch helps ensure that our warfighters will be provided the capabilities they need in the future,” said Col. Andre Lovett, vice commander of the 45th Space Wing and the officer who made the firing decision.
After 7 months of its secret mission, the unmanned robotic space shuttle, the X-37B has landed safely at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. This marks the first U.S. unmanned vehicle to make an autonomous runway landing from space, 2nd to the Soviet Union’s Buran space shuttle in 1988. The U.S. Air Force will not disclose the purpose of the 7 month space mission, but officials did say that they were satisfied enough to go ahead with their 2nd X-37B launch expected in spring of 2011.