Military's mysterious X-37B mini-shuttle flight may get ground due to cold front

7:43 AM, Dec 11, 2012   |    comments
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X-38B Space Plane (artist conception NASA/MSFC)



CAPE CANAVERAL, FL (Florida Today) -- An Atlas V rocket carrying a military mini-shuttle is poised for launch on its Cape Canaveral pad Tuesday, but the forecast is not favorable.

The five-hour launch window opens at 1:03 p.m.

However, a cold front is expected to sweep into central Florida today, bringing with it a high probability of cloudy conditions, rain showers and isolated thunderstorms.

Air Force meteorologists say there is a 70 percent chance conditions would prohibit launch. The weather forecast for Wednesday is the same. The front is expected to stall over central Florida Wednesday before moving off to the northeast.

Mounted atop a mobile launch platform, the Atlas V with its payload, the Air Force's X-37B spacecraft, moved out of its 30-story assembly building Monday and made the 1,800-foot trip to Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station along rail tracks.

The launch of the X-37B will be the first re-flight of one of the experimental spaceplanes.

The X-37B can reenter the atmosphere and land autonomously. The first two missions concluded on a runway at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Air Force officials say there is a chance the third mission will end with a landing on the shuttle runway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

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