After more than seven months circling the planet, the United States Air Force’s unmanned miniature space shuttle, known as the X 37B or USA-212, is poised to land at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California possibly as soon as Friday.
The military has released the typical notices to pilots and mariners, or NOTAMs, warning of an upcoming operation at the base. The notice advises of a military operation between 10 p.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday. It will be the second reusable spacecraft to perform an automated landing after returning from orbit, the first being the Russian Buran spacecraft in 1988.
The small unmanned vehicle — boasting a wingspan of nearly 15 feet, a height of more than 9 feet and a length of 29 feet — launched aboard an Atlas 5 rocket that blasted off in late April from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. More from The Los Angeles Times, Discovery News, Aviation Week, and Spaceflight Now.