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Air Force to launch second orbital test vehicle

The Air Force's first unmanned re-entry spacecraft, X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, landed at 1:16 a.m. Dec. 3, 2010, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.  The X-37B conducted on-orbit experiments for more than 220 days during its maiden voyage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Stonecypher)

The Air Force's first unmanned re-entry spacecraft, X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, landed at 1:16 a.m. Dec. 3, 2010, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The X-37B conducted on-orbit experiments for more than 220 days during its maiden voyage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Stonecypher)

WASHINGTON -- Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office officials announced the launch of the second X-37B March 4 with a back-up launch opportunity March 5.

AFRCO is leading the Defense Department's orbital test vehicle initiative, by direction of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics and the secretary of the Air Force.

For the first X-37B OTV mission, Air Force officials focused on testing and evaluating the performance capabilities of the vehicle. This second mission will build upon the OTV-1 on-orbit demonstration, validate and replicate initial testing and fine tune the technical parameters of the vehicle tests.

Launch specialists at the Air Force Space Command's 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., will launch the vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41. The vehicle will land at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and will be recovered by technicians from the 30th Space Wing.

The launch window for the mission opens at 3:39 p.m. EST. Visit http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/Multimedia_Webcast.shtml for live streaming of the launch.