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Photos: US Air Force's Secretive X-37B Space Plane Soars on 3rd Mission

  • X-37B Launches on Third Mission #2

    X-37B Launches on Third Mission #2
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    CREDIT: Pat Corkery/United Launch Alliance
  • X-37B Launches on Third Mission

    X-37B Launches on Third Mission
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    CREDIT: United Launch Alliance
  • Rocket Nose Cone Covers X-37B Robot Space Plane

    Air Force's Mystery X-37B Robot Spaceship to Launch Today
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    CREDIT: USAF
  • X-37B: Let's Work

    Image of on-orbit functions for NASA’s X-37 space plane.
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    CREDIT: NASA/MSFC
  • X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Diagram

    Diagram of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.
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    CREDIT: Graphic by Karl Tate
  • X-37B Space Plane Launches on Atlas 5

    X-37B Space Plane Launches on Atlas 5
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    CREDIT: ULA
  • Air Force's X-37B Space Plane: An Orbital Spy

    Air Force's New X-37B Space Plane Likely an Orbital Spy
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    CREDIT: USAF
  • X-37B Rolled Out for Third Mission

    A United Launch Alliance Atlas V is rolled to the pad at Space Launch Complex-41 in preparation for launch of the Air Force’s third Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-3) mission.
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    CREDIT: Pat Corkery/United Launch Alliance
  • In orbit

    Now being readied for an orbital shakeout, the X-37B (shown here in an illustration) is an unpiloted military space plane. Launched from Florida, the vehicle will make an auto-touchdown in California. Credit: USAF
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    CREDIT: USAF
  • X-37B Rolled Out for Third Mission, Payload Closeup

    X-37B Rolled Out for Third Mission, Payload Closeup
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    CREDIT: Pat Corkery/United Launch Alliance
  • X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV)

    X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle developed by the US Air Force may be outfitted with a weapon to drop tungsten rods from space on Earth targets.
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    CREDIT: NASA/Boeing
  • x-37b-space-plane-landing-photos-7-101203-02.jpg

    The U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B robot space plane landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Dec. 3, 2010 to end a successful — but mysterious — seven month mission that was shrouded in secrecy. Recovery crews were quick on scene to meet th
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    CREDIT: SAF/Vandenberg Air Force Base
  • X-37B Mated to Atlas V Launch Vehicle

    X-37B Mated to Atlas V Launch Vehicle
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    CREDIT: United Launch Alliance
  • X-37B Rolled Out for Third Mission, Low Angle

    X-37B Rolled Out for Third Mission, Low Angle
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    CREDIT: United Launch Alliance
  • X-37B Payload Fairing Before Mating to Atlas V Launch Vehicle

    X-37B Payload Fairing Before Mating to Atlas V Launch Vehicle
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    CREDIT: United Launch Alliance
  • X-37B Prepared for Third Mission

    X-37B Prepared for Third Mission
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    CREDIT: United Launch Alliance
  • On the Runway

    The X-37B space plane prototype is seen on a runway during flight tests in this undated photo released by the U.S. Air Force.
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    CREDIT: USAF
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasts off from Space Launch Complex-41 with the U.S. Air Force's third Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-3). The OTV, also known as the X-37B, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Dec. 11, 2012.

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