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Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:12 PM

Air Force Sends Mystery Mini-Shuttle Back to Space

Source: Associated Press

Air Force Sends Mystery Mini-Shuttle Back to Space

By By MARCIA DUNN AP Aerospace Writer
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. December 11, 2012 (AP)

The military's small, top-secret version of the space shuttle rocketed into orbit Tuesday for a repeat mystery mission, two years after making the first flight of its kind.

The Air Force launched the unmanned spacecraft Tuesday hidden on top of an Atlas V rocket. As if on cue, clouds quickly swallowed up the rocket as it disappeared out over the ocean.

It is the second flight for this original X-37B spaceplane. The craft circled the planet for seven months in 2010. A second X-37B spacecraft spent more than a year in orbit.

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The military isn't saying much if anything about this new secret mission known as OTV-3, or Orbital Test Vehicle, flight No. 3. In fact, launch commentary ended 17 minutes into the flight and a news blackout followed.

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Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/air-force-sends-mystery-mini-shuttle-back-space-17934788

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