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X37B atop Atlas launcher

The second Orbital Test Vehicle, the U.S. military’s secretive mini space shuttle, arrived at the Atlas 5 rocket’s assembly hangar this morning for mounting atop the launcher.

Liftoff is scheduled for March 4 from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41.

Already shrouded within in the aerodynamic nose cone for launch, the OTV 2 spaceplane was hauled across the Cape overnight from its processing area to the Atlas’ Vertical Integration Facility.

A heavy-duty crane hoisted the payload into the towering VIF around 8:30 a.m. and cautiously positioned above the two-stage launcher for mating later in the day.