X-37B ends 15-month secret mission

Tuesday - 6/19/2012, 6:47pm EDT

An unmanned space plane is back on earth after a 15-month secret journey.

The X-37B was launched in March 2011 to conduct "in-orbit experiments," according to the Associated Press.

The X-37B's flight included a classified payload, the AP reported. Air Force Lt. Col. Tom McIntyre, the plane's program manager, said the aircraft provided the military with testing capabilities without the risks other programs face.

The program is particularly important for space-technology development given the end of the space shuttle program.

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