A US military space drone landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday after nearly two and a half years in orbit.
The unmanned X-37B shuttle, which made its first flight in 2010, has now spent more than ten years in space and flown more than 1.3 billion miles in six missions, according to a statement from Boeing.
‘This mission highlights the Space Force’s focus on collaboration in space exploration and expanding low-cost access to space for our partners, within and outside of the Department of the Air Force,’ said General Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations.
Launched in secrecy, the X-37B was designed for the Air Force by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
It measures 30 feet (nine metres) long, has a wingspan of 15 feet, and is powered by solar panels.
Before the shuttle’s final launch in May 2020, the Pentagon announced a series of scientific experiments.
According to the army, the mission was to test how certain materials react in space, evaluate how ambient radiation in space affects a series of seeds, and convert solar radiation into radio-electric energy.