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Air Force to launch second orbital test vehicle

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle sits on the runway at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 3, 2010, during post-landing operations. Personnel in self-contained atmospheric protective ensemble suits are conducting initial checks on the vehicle and ensuring the area is safe.  The X-37B launched April 22 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., allowing teams to conduct on-orbit experiments for more than 220 days during this first mission.  (U.S. Air Force photo)

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle sits on the runway at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 3, 2010, during post-landing operations. Personnel in self-contained atmospheric protective ensemble suits are conducting initial checks on the vehicle and ensuring the area is safe. The X-37B launched April 22 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., allowing teams to conduct on-orbit experiments for more than 220 days during this first mission. The second X-37B is slated for launch on Mar. 4, 2011 from Cape Canveral Air Force Station, Fla,. aboard an Atlas V by the 45th Space Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- 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.