Vandenberg AFB, Calif., is preparing for the return of the X-37B spacecraft, officials told Air Force Magazine Tuesday afternoon. The orbital vehicle is set to return this week after nearly two years on orbit. However, “technical and weather conditions” make it difficult to pinpoint the exact time and date of its return, said Air Force Space Command spokesman Andy Roake. The first X-37 aircraft spent 224 days on orbit, the second 469 days. This flight, the second for the first vehicle in the two-vehicle fleet, initially launched Dec. 11, 2012, from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. “Team Vandenberg stands ready to implement safe landing operations for the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, the third time for this unique mission,” said Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander, in a statement.
Air Force Global Strike Command has finished collecting a second round of test samples looking for hazardous chemicals at its three intercontinental ballistic missile bases and plans to expand testing to Vandenberg Space Force Base early next year, officials said Dec. 1.