Friday, December 15 , 2017, 12:15 pm | Smoke 73º


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X-37B Space Plane’s Return Delayed Until At Least Thursday

The next landing attempt for the military's secret reusable space plane has been delayed until at least Thursday at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Landing for the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle reportedly had been set for Tuesday, according to notices warning pilots and boaters to remain out of the area. 

However, those advisories were revised to warn them to stay clear of the area between 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, and later updated to give a broader window for a possible Thursday landing

Air Force officials will only say the landing is looming, and that the exact date and time will depend on technical and weather considerations.

A weather system is bringing a slight chance of rain and winds to the Central Coast on Tuesday night and Wednesday, but will move out before another slight chance of rain comes Friday from a different storm.

The unmanned mini space shuttle has been circling Earth since its launch aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from Florida in December 2012, giving it 22 months in orbit. 

The X-37B falls under the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (AFRCO), which will only say the vehicle supports space experimentation, risk reduction, and concept of operations development for long duration and reusable space vehicle technologies.

The X37-B is 29 feet long and boasts a wingspan of 14 feet, with two orbiters in the Air Force’s inventory. This is the second flight for this orbiter and the third mission for the program.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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