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Sat, Apr 24, 2010

X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Off On Mission Of Unknown Duration

Demonstration Platform For Reusable Space Vehicle Technologies

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 41 Thursday. The OTV rode to orbit on board an Atlas V rocket at 1952 EDT, according to the U.S. Air Force. The launch was undertaken for the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.

"The X-37B has the potential to bring to space the flexibility that unmanned systems provide warfighters and combatant commanders today," said Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. Boeing built the X-37B. "With the ability to be launched into space and then land on its own, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is an example of the kind of innovation that Boeing has been doing for decades to advance aviation, space systems, and now unmanned systems. Close teamwork between the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the United Launch Alliance Atlas team, and the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station made this launch a success."

The vehicle will be used to demonstrate a reliable, reusable unmanned space test platform for the Air Force. Program objectives include space experimentation, risk reduction, and concept-of-operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.

The X-37B resembles a miniature space shuttle. The vehicle is 29 feet long, and has a wing-span of about 14 feet.

"The Orbital Test Vehicle combines the best of aircraft and spacecraft to enable flexible and responsive missions," said Paul Rusnock, Boeing vice president of Experimental Systems and program director for the X-37B. "This first flight will demonstrate the readiness of the X-37B to begin serving the Air Force as it continues to investigate ways to make space access more routine, affordable and responsive."

Boeing has been working on the space-based unmanned vehicle for a decade, and has supported the Air Force Research Lab's X-40 program, NASA's X-37 program, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's X-37 approach, landing and test vehicle (ALTV) program. The duration of the mssion as well as its full range of objectives remain undisclosed...

FMI: www.boeing.com

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