Things seem to be getting more and more automated in the army, where most recently we saw this unmanned Air Force space plane steering itself to a safe landing last Saturday at a California military base, which marks the end (and perhaps the highlight) of a 15-month clandestine mission. This particular unmanned space plane was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in March last year, where it conducted in-orbit experiments throughout the mission, although we are not privy as to whether it did more than just that on an unofficial basis. You know, like checking out on what rogue regimes are up to and all that…

What happened last Saturday would make it the second of such autonomous landings at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is located 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Lt. Col. Tom McIntyre, the X-37B’s program manager, said, “With the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, the X-37B OTV program brings a singular capability to space technology development. The return capability allows the Air Force to test new technologies without the same risk commitment faced by other programs. We’re proud of the entire team’s successful efforts to bring this mission to an outstanding conclusion.”

There are plans penciled in already to make another run later this year, although no date has been set in concrete just yet.

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