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Top-secret space shuttle


US Air Force announces X-37B

The US Air Force says it is going to develop its own variant of NASA’s X-37 – the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.

Space plane takes priority

NASA is looking to launch its Lunar Reconnaiss­ance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observatio­n and Sensing Satellite, but X-37B is scheduled in to use the

Atlas V rocket launcher instead.

First X-37B vehicle launch

X-37B OTV-1 is launched from Cape Canaveral and placed into low-Earth orbit for testing. It suffers a tyre blowout on landing in December.

Second X-37B gets its launch

OTV-2 launches for Earth orbit in 2011 with the remit of testing new space technologi­es. It ends up in orbit for over 468 days.

Boeing announces scaled-up X-37C

Planned to be between 165 and 180 per cent the size of the X-37B, it would be able to carry up to six passengers.

A third mission blasts off

Six months after OTV-2 lands, OTV-3 launches. It was in orbit for 674 days and 22 hours before landing back on Earth in October 2014.

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