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Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Launching on Secret Mission Friday

Mike Wall
Space.com [1]
Thursday, March 3, 2011

The U.S. Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane is poised to launch on its second mission Friday (March 4), though what exactly it will be doing once it leaves the ground remains a mystery.

The robotic X-37B mini-shuttle [2] is slated to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Friday atop an Atlas 5 rocket, weather permitting. Its launch window opens at 3:39 p.m. EST (2039 GMT), according to the launch provider United Launch Alliance, which is overseeing the flight.

This will mark the second space mission for the Air Force’s X-37B space plane program — but the first for this particular plane. It is the second X-37B spacecraft built for the Air Force by Boeing and carries the name Orbital Test Vehicle 2, or OTV-2.

The first X-37B spacecraft [3] launched in April 2010 and returned to Earth in December after an apparently successful test flight, though the details of that mission – like this upcoming flight – are classified. The first X-37B mission lasted 225 days.

Full story here. [1]

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