The mysterious U. S. Air Force's X-37B robotic spacecraft returned to Earth today (December 3) with a successful landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California before sunrise.
Air Force officials praised the successful landing X-37B unmanned spacecraft, although its mission remains shrouded in secrecy because of its classified nature. But Vandenberg's 30th Space Wing is not shy of breaking pictures of X-37B vehicle called the Orbital Test Vehicle 1. Looking at the first pictures below:
Nose to Nose: the space X-37B aircraft builder Boeing's released unmanned spacecraft just after landing on December 3, 2010.
spacecraft spent 220 days in space before gliding to a landing early morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Home Again: Although the nature of robots, spacecraft X-37B will receive a warm welcome from the crew at Vandenberg Air Force.
Here, if the vehicle appeared to survive after landing procedure on 3 December at 01:16 PT (0916 GMT).
Significant erosion, or changes in color can be seen on top of the thermal insulation blanket that spacecraft.
X-37B in Profile: An Air Force photographer snapped a profile view of the X-37B landing shortly after his 3 December.
X-37B is about 29 feet (9 meters) long and has a wingspan of more than 14 feet (4 meters) across. Standing over 9 1 / 2 feet (3 meters) tall and weighs 11,000 pounds (5,000 kg). For comparison: Two X-37B vehicle in rows on the back of the nose, could fit in the payload bay of NASA space shuttle. Boeing Phantom Works division in Seal Beach, Calif., the spacecraft.
This graphic SPACE.com X 37B illustrate the features and functions of unmanned spacecraft.
Up Close and Personal: A handler vehicle crews dressed in a suit to protect against hazardous materials (such as rocket fuel remaining) robotic spacecraft approaches the X-37B successfully landed after December 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Concept X-37B: This photo released by the Air Force, the spacecraft's nose mysterious X-37B as the recovery crew to take measurements and other readings to December 3 landed at Vandenberg. unique X-37B V-shaped "ruddervators" - which serves as a stabilizer tail - which looks and the air brakes deployed.
Payload Bay Door: Here is the spacecraft X-37B is seen in profile as a post-landing the job ahead. Logo Boeing and the Air Force plane was visible in the stomach can be reused. They appear between the line that describes the payload bay of the X-37B, which is the size of pickup truck beds and can hold experiments, small satellites and the solar panel array that is used for power generation.
Welcome Home: the space shuttle's cargo bay is the X-37B is clearly visible in side view, as the scale of the spacecraft relative to the human
X-37B began life in 1999 as a project of NASA, DARPA office and then transferred to the Pentagon in 2004. Air Force took over in 2006. The mission was launched on 22 April 2010. The purpose of the flight and the cost is classified.
Looking Up: The view side of the X-37B was taken by a photographer Boeing publicly grooved runways at Vandenberg Air Force Base in which robotic spacecraft landed today. Force Vandenberg workers replace hundreds of small steel plates on runwary to do harm to the band X-37B to avoid during landing, according to the Santa Maria Times newspaper.
Job well done: In the back of the first X-37B vehicle on Earth, the Air Force is now looking for the next launch. The Air Force ordered the construction of the two X-37B - the Orbital Test Vehicle 2 - for the mission to launch in spring 2011.