Military orbiter’s landing rattles Florida with sonic boom

In a testing procedure, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle taxis on the flightline in June 2009 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Credit: U.S. Air Force

U.S. military officials say an unmanned aircraft orbiting Earth since May 2015 has landed in Florida.

The Air Force posted tweets that the X-37B shuttle landed Sunday morning at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral after 718 days in orbit.

Multiple media outlets reported that the 29-foot-long aircraft’s return caused a sonic boom that rattled central Florida and could be heard as far away as Tampa and Fort Myers.

It’s the shuttle’s first landing in Florida. Previous X-37B missions have landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

In a statement , officials said the X-37B shuttle is “an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the U.S. Air Force.” Another mission is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral later this year.

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