The US Air Force launched a Boeing X-37B space plane on 11 December from the Kennedy space center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The unmanned vehicle was carried into orbit onboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at around 13:00 Eastern Time.
This particular X-37B, one of two examples built, is on its second flight according to manufacturer Boeing. "The second mission for OTV-1 [Orbital Test Vehicle-1] demonstrates the vehicle is capable of multiple missions and affordable access to space," says Paul Rusnock, vice president of Boeing government space systems.
The USAF has flown the X-37B twice before for extended periods of time, but the service has not revealed the nature of the spacecraft's missions. One of the previous missions lasted for some 469 days.
Source: Flight International