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Watch webcast of X-37B space plane's launch [Live video] [Updated]

March 4, 2011 | 12:31 pm

A small robotic spacecraft that looks like a miniature version of the space shuttle is set to launch Friday from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The spacecraft, dubbed the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, will be sent up on top of an Atlas V rocket built by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. The launch is scheduled to be webcast beginning at 12:30 p.m. PST here and on the company’s website.

The actual launch is slated to take place at 12:50 p.m.

It is the second launch of the vehicle, which was developed and built in Southern California. The first X-37B was launched from Cape Canaveral last April, and 224 days later, it landed on its own -- fully automated -- on a 15,000-foot-long airstrip at Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara.

A more in-depth story ran in Friday's Times. Read it here.

-- W.J. Hennigan

[Updated at 12:59 p.m.: According to United Launch Alliance spokesman Mike Rein: "We missed our first launch window due to high ground winds and cumulus clouds. We will now attempt a launch at 2:27 p.m. PST. No issues with the rocket, just weather." Next webcast will start at 2:17 p.m.]

[Updated at 2:34 p.m.: According to United Launch Alliance spokesman Mike Rein: "The launch attempt of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V with the Air Force's second Orbital Test Vehicle was scrubbed today for weather. Thick cumulus clouds, which could produce triggered lightning, were within 10 miles of Space Launch Complex-41 during the scheduled launch windows. This is a launch criteria violation.

The Atlas V vehicle and OTV-2 are safe and secure at this time. The launch is rescheduled for Saturday, March 5 at 1:09 p.m. PST."]