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Air Force hopes to launch X-37B space plane after weather delay [Updated]

March 5, 2011 | 12:49 pm

The Air Force is hoping to launch its X-37B space plane aboard an Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Saturday, after bad weather pushed back a scheduled launch Friday.

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a small robotic spacecraft that looks like a miniature version of the space shuttle, is to be launched on the 19-story rocket built by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. The launch will be webcast here and on the company’s website beginning at 2:26 p.m.

The launch is scheduled to take place at 2:46 p.m.

It is the second launch of an X-37B space plane, 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.

An in-depth story about the X-37B ran in Friday's issue of The Times. Read it here.

-- W.J. Hennigan

[Updated at 3:10 p.m.: The Atlas V carrying the X-37B space plane blasted off from Cape Canaveral about 2:46 p.m. PST. About 20 minutes later, ULA issued a statement that said the launch was successful.]