UFO panic as secret robot spacecraft lands after circling Earth for three years

NASA’s mysterious X-37B sparked a UFO panic as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere after a record-breaking two-and-a-half year mission in space.

The X-37B took off for its sixth mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in May 2020, powered by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

But as it returned, unannounced, in the early hours of Saturday morning, it caused mass panic across the state of Florida with a series of window-rattling sonic booms.

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One local, Sophie Sanchez, says she was driving shortly after 5am on Saturday when she saw the unmanned spacecraft returning to Earth.

“I totally think I saw this,” she tweeted. “Was driving south almost to the Cape early this morning, when I saw [I don’t know what] streaked overhead. Meteor? UFO? Everyone on the road hit their brakes. Figured twitter would know, lol, but I didn't think it was going to be X-37”.

Another Twitter user, Josh Bailey, wrote: Just a very normal “mysterious sonic boom at 5am was so loud it shook my back door and I thought someone was coming in” kind of Florida morning!.

Responding to someone else's suggestion that the racket had probably been caused by the spaceplane – which is now operated by the US Space Force – Josh added: "".

Dozens of other Florida residents complained that they had been woken up by the thunderous sound of the spaceplane’s re-entry.

Another Florida local, Robert Haas, wrote on Twitter: “Woke me up, thought something hit the house, Facebook and Twitter seem to confirm it was what I thought, sonic boom seems likely”.

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Most of the X-37B’s missions have been conducted under conditions of strict secrecy, with some speculating that it’s been tested as an orbital weapons platform.

US Air Force Deputy Undersecretary of Space Programs, Gary Payton has denied reports that the X-37B is the prototype for a new space-based weapons system.

He told reporters, "I don't know how this could be called a weaponisation of space. Fundamentally, it's just an updated version of the Space Shuttle kinds of activities in space."

The X-37B looks like a miniaturised version of the now-retired Space Shuttle and has similar capabilities. But at a little under 30 feet in length it’s almost a quarter of the size of the Space Shuttle.

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The robotic spacecraft's endurance records have shattered those of the Shuttle though. By the end of its sixth mission the Boeing-made spaceplane has flown some 1.3 billion miles over the course of 3,774 days in space.

Jim Chilton, a senior vice president for Boeing, said: “Since the X-37B's first launch in 2010, it has shattered records and provided our nation with an unrivalled capability to rapidly test and integrate new space technologies.”

Its most recent set of experiments included the test of a new system to collect solar power and beam it back to Earth. The X37-B “successfully harnessed solar rays outside of Earth’s atmosphere and aimed to transmit power to the ground in the form of radio frequency microwave energy,” according to a NASA statement.


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