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Air Force's space plane lands with a boom in Florida

By Mike Bambach
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Air Force's space plane lands with a boom in Florida
The U.S. Air Force's X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle 4 is seen at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility after landing in Florida on May 7, 2017. Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the X-37B program is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft designed to perform risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies. Photo by U.S. Air Force/UPI | License Photo

May 7 (UPI) -- The Air Force's X-37B space plane made an unexpected landing on Sunday and rattled Central Florida with a a sonic boom, officials confirmed.

The unmanned mini-shuttle, which lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop an Atlas V rocket on May 20, 2015, spent 718 days in orbit -- an endurance record.

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It was the fourth space trip for the 29-foot-long, 11,000-pound craft, but the first time it has landed in Florida.

The Air Force's two X-37B reusable mini-shuttles both have completed two mostly classified missions, spending 2,085 days in low Earth orbit. The first mission launched in 2010.

"The landing of OTV-4 marks another success for the X-37B program and the nation," Lt. Col. Ron Fehlen, X-37B program manager said in a news release. "This mission once again set an on-orbit endurance record and marks the vehicle's first landing in the state of Florida."

The X-37B's return to Florida was not expected because its three previous flights ended at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The Air Force said it plans to launch the fifth X-37B mission from Cape Canaveral later this year.

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Videos show the X-37B's landing on a runway from two different angles.

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