The U.S. Air Force’s secrecy-shrouded X-37B unmanned spaceplane returned to Earth early Friday after more than seven months in orbit on a classified mission, officials said.
The winged craft autonomously landed at at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Vandenburg spokesman Jeremy Eggers said.
“It’s very exciting,” Eggers said of the 1:16 a.m. PST landing.
The X-37B was launched by an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on April 22, 2010, with a maximum mission duration of 270 days.
Also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, the Boeing-built spacecraft was originally a NASA project before being taken over by the military.