Secret Spacecraft to Be Tested at Kennedy Space Center

Saturday, Jan 4, 2014  |  Updated 8:30 AM CDT
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Teen Reaches for the Stars

AP

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, carrying an X-37B experimental robotic space plane, lifts off from launch complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Air Force officials said the unmanned space plane, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, provides a way to test technologies in space.

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Teen Reaches for the Stars

Minneapolis student Abby Harrison, 15, also known as Astronaut Abby, will get a chance to witness a Russian spacecraft launch to the International Space Station this spring. "I'd been saying I wanted to be an astronaut since I was a kid."
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The Kennedy Space Center will be the testing site for a top-secret Air Force space plane.

Boeing is the contractor working on the spacecraft, and the company announced Friday that it will convert a former space shuttle building for the X-37B orbital test vehicle program.

An undisclosed number of workers will recover, refurbish and relaunch the 29-foot-long unmanned spacecraft.

The Air Force launched the most recent flight of the unmanned spacecraft from Florida's Space Coast more than a year ago.

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

The mystery machines are about one-quarter the size of NASA's old space shuttles and can land automatically on a runway.

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