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Photos: X-37B Space Plane - The Orbital Test Vehicle

Up Close and Personal

USAF/Vandenberg Air Force Base

A crew of vehicle handlers clad in suits to protect against hazardous materials (like any remaining rocket fuel) approach the X-37B robot space plane after its successful Dec. 3 landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

X-37B in Profile

USAF/Vandenberg Air Force Base

An Air Force photographer snapped this profile view of the X-37B shortly after its landing on Dec. 3, 2010, which marked the end of the secret vehicle's maiden space mission.

Home Again

USAF/Vandenberg Air Force Base

Despite its robotic nature, the X-37B space plane received a warm welcome from Air Force crews at Vandenberg. Here, the vehicle appears to be undergoing safing procedures after landing on Dec. 3 at 1:16 a.m. PST (0916 GMT). Significant weathering, or discoloration, can be seen on the spacecraft's upper thermal blanket insulation.

Rocket Nose Cone Covers X-37B Robot Space Plane

USAF

The U.S. Air Force's X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is shown inside its payload fairing during encapsulation at the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Fla., ahead of a planned April 2010 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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