|Atlas 5 launches the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle
4/22/10 ~ 7:52pm
Homepage Launch Photos
An Atlas 5 rocket, flying in the 501 configuration for the first time with no solid rocket boosters and the large five-meter payload fairing, launched the first new reusable space-plane in over two-decades. A relatively secret project, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which has a small payload bay capabale of carrying several hundred pounds, has been in developement for some 15 or more years. Launching inside the payload shroud of the Atlas 5 rocket (originally to be launched on the shuttle, and then on a Delta 2 exposed without a fairing), the roughly 15-foot-long space plane spent 225 days in space before reentering and gliding to a landing at Vandenberg AFB, California on December 3, 2010. It will later fly again on another mission, and a second X-37B will fly as well on separate launches. Possible applications include robot satellite repair and servicing.
Sunrise with Atlas 5 on pad for WDR
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