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Photos: Air Force's 2nd Secretive X-37B Space Plane Flight

Blastoff for Air Force's 2nd X-37B Space Plane

Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket carrying the Air Force's second X-37B robot space plane, the Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2), launches from its Space Launch Complex-41 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on March 5, 2011 at 5:46 p.m. EST.

A Shell for X-37B

Boeing

The second Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, built for the U.S. Air Force, is shown here during encapsulation within the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket's 5-meter fairing at Astrotech in Titusville, Fla., on Feb. 8, 2011. The Air Force launched the new space plane from the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on March 5.

X-37B Soars Toward Space

United Launch Alliance

The Air Force's second X-37B space plane soars toward space atop an Atlas 5 rocket after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 5, 2011.

Orbital Diagram for X-37B and Tiangong 1 (1)

Brian Weeden/Google Earth/Dr. Wang Ting (Stanford University) 

Diagram of the orbits of the X-37B space plane (red line) and China's Tiangong 1 space module (green line), as of early January 2012. The orbit for Tiangong 1 was pulled from the U.S. military's Space Track website, and the orbit for X-37B is from amateur observations.

Orbital Diagram for X-37B and Tiangong 1 (2)

Brian Weeden/Google Earth/Dr. Wang Ting (Stanford University) 

Diagram of the orbits of the X-37B space plane (red line) and China's Tiangong 1 space module (green line), as of early January 2012. The orbit for Tiangong 1 was pulled from the U.S. military's Space Track website, and the orbit for X-37B is from amateur observations.

Shrouded (Literally): The Second X-37B Space Plane

Boeing

The second Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, built for the U.S. Air Force, is shown here during encapsulation within the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket's 5-meter fairing at Astrotech in Titusville, Fla., on Feb. 8, 2011. The Air Force launched the new space plane from the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on March 5.

Effective Mating

United Launch Alliance

The Air Force's X-37B space plane, set to fly the OTV-2 mission, is shown inside its rocket nose cone before being mated to its Atlas 5 booster for launch from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in March 2011.

Identifying Label

United Launch Alliance

The Air Force's mission emblem for the secretive OTV-2 space plane flight using a robotic X-37B spacecraft is visible as the vehicle is mated to its Atlas 5 booster in preparation for launch from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

So High

United Launch Alliance

An Atlas 5 carrying Air Force's second X-37B space plane on its secretive OTV-2 mission rolls out to the seaside launch pad for launch from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida

Atlas 5 Rocket Carries Second X-37B

Pat Corkery/ULA

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket with the Air Force’s second X-37B robot space plane, the Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2) rolls out to its Space Launch Complex-41 launch pad on March 3, 2011, one day before launch. The OTV-2 supports space experimentation, risk reduction, and concept of operations development for long duration and reusable space vehicle technologies.

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