Second X-37B Launches

The Air Force and its industry partners last week launched the second Boeing-built X-37B orbital test vehicle, OTV-2, into space on its inaugural mission. The reusable spaceplane lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket destined for a low-Earth orbit. “We have just started what is a very systematic checkout of the system,” said Richard McKinney, USAF’s deputy under secretary for space programs, following the March 5 launch. McKinney said OTV-2’s flight will expand upon the orbital tests conducted with OTV-1 during its maiden mission last year. Air Force officials said OTV-2 likely will remain on orbit for about 270 days, perhaps longer. Program officials want to land OTV-2 in stronger wind conditions than OTV-1 faced when it returned to Earth. (Cape Canaveral report by MSgt. Amaani Lyle) (See also Boeing release)