Friday, March 11, 2011

Air Force Launches Robotic Space Plane on Mystery Mission

After being delayed a day by bad weather, the U.S. Air Force's second X-37B robotic space plane blasted off from Florida Saturday afternoon on a mystery mission shrouded in secrecy.

The unmanned X-37B mini-shuttle — known as Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2) — took to the skies from Cape Canaveral at 5:46 p.m. ET today, tucked away in the nose cone atop a huge Atlas 5 rocket.

"Liftoff of the Atlas 5 rocket and the second experimental X-37B, America's miniature military space shuttle," the Air Force Space Command wrote in a Twitter post as the Atlas 5 streaked into the Florida skies.

The space plane was originally scheduled to launch yesterday, but cloudy, windy conditions scrubbed two attempts. And a technical glitch caused the X-37B to miss a launch window earlier this afternoon; a faulty valve had to be replaced in a last-minute repair.

The X-37B's mission is classified, but Air Force officials have said the vehicle will be used to test out new spacecraft technologies. Shortly after launch, the mission went into a scheduled media blackout, with no futher (sic) public updates.

Word from the hood is that Pop-Secret delivery trucks were backed up for half a mile awaiting entry into the launch facility. Many Floridians know from years of scuttlebutt that the single biggest obstacle to keeping astronauts well fed and content has forever been the lack of decent popcorn while aloft.

Case closed and a mystery no more. That's what we do. Investigate then de-shroud the heretofore uninvestigatable.

No comments: