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Air Force’s reusable spacecraft returns after long mission

09 May 2017

The US Air Force’s unmanned, reusable space plane landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre Shuttle Landing Facility after a 718 day mission.

The Air Force's X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle mission 4 lands at NASA 's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility, Fla., May 7, 2017. (Credit: U.S. Air Force)

The Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle mission 4 (OTV-4) landed on May 7, 2017. The X-37B mission is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft which performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies. The OTV-4 conducted on-orbit experiments during its recent mission. 

"The landing of OTV-4 marks another success for the X-37B program and the nation," said Lt. Col. Ron Fehlen, X-37B program manager. "This mission once again set an on-orbit endurance record and marks the vehicle's first landing in the state of Florida. We are incredibly pleased with the performance of the space vehicle and are excited about the data gathered to support the scientific and space communities. We are extremely proud of the dedication and hard work by the entire team."

"The hard work of the X-37B OTV team and the 45th Space Wing successfully demonstrated the flexibility and resolve necessary to continue the nation's advancement in space," said Randy Walden, the director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. "The ability to land, refurbish, and launch from the same location further enhances the OTV's ability to rapidly integrate and qualify new space technologies."

The Air Force is preparing to launch the fifth X-37B mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida in late 2017.

Materials provided by US Air Force.


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