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The X37b space plane launch took place today

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X37b space plane launch: first in Air Force's busy space year
The X37b space plane launch took place at 7:52 PM Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The big Atlas rocket’s boosters lit up the twilight in what officials termed a flawless launch.

“This launch helps ensure that our warfighters will be provided the capabilities they need in the future,” said Col. Andre Lovett, vice commander of the 45th Space Wing and the officer who made the firing decision.

But what will those capabilities be? That’s classified, for the most part. The Air Force won’t say if the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is intended to be a sort of mobile spy satellite, a repair vehicle for other spy satellites, or even a prototype weapon.

Officials stress that it is a means to increase the flexibility of Air Force space operations that already occur. The way they describe the X37b makes it sound like an updated, smaller, robotic Space Shuttle that will be run by the military.
 

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