The U.S. Air Force’s second unmanned X-37B spaceplane landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., June 16 after more than a year on orbit, the service said in a press release.

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV)-2 landing took place at 5:48 p.m. local time, according to the press release. OTV-2 was launched in March 2011 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on a mission whose details are classified.

The reusable spacecraft can maneuver in space and land horizontally like an airplane.

The X-37B program performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technology, according to the press release.

OTV-2, built by Boeing Phantom Works of El Segundo, Calif., resembles a miniature space shuttle, with a payload bay about the size of a pickup truck bed and a deployable solar array. The spaceplane’s mission is being conducted by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.

The first X-37B vehicle, OTV-1, landed at Vandenberg in December 2010 after 224 days in orbit. The Air Force plans to send that vehicle back into space this fall, also aboard an Atlas 5.



With One X-37B Still in Orbit, Air Force Plans To Relaunch Twin