Until now the only space vehicle capable of returning to Earth - in a controlled manner anyway - was the Space Shuttle. With that craft scheduled to be retired from service next year the U.S. Air Force's Boeing X-37 program is focused on demonstrating a next generation unmanned reusable spaceplane. On April 22 this year the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. On December 3, after an experimental test mission lasting over 220 days, the craft successfully de-orbited and landed safely at Vandenberg Air Force Base, making it the United States' first unmanned vehicle to return from space and land on its own.
Read the full article: Boeing X-37B unmanned spacecraft successfully completes first flight