December 11, 2012 - Despite a 70% chance of unfavorable weather, an Atlas 5 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41 at 1:03 p.m. EST.
On board is the Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a spacecraft that looks like a miniature shuttle. This is the third mission for the X-37B program and the second for this particular spaceplane that had flown it's maiden voyage from April through December 2010.
The vehicle is designed for an on-orbit duration of approximately 9 months but it's return date remains classified. Unlike the space shuttles that used fuels cells to generate electricity, the X-37B is powered by a deployable solar array. The longest shuttle flight was 18 days.
Photos taken from Port Canaveral - a distance of 11.5 miles.
© Dennis Huff