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X-37B Space Plane Launch: How To WATCH LIVE (PHOTO, VIDEO)

Space Shuttle X B

First Posted: 06/22/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 05:15 PM ET

Is it the first step toward the militarization of space? A new frontier in space exploration? A space plane build to spy from the skies?

The mysterious X-37B unmanned space plane, a robotic spacecraft that has been "wrapped in secrecy from the get-go," will be launched by the US military on Thursday, April 22 after years in development.

The Orbital Test Vehicle will liftoff atop an Atlas 5 rocket and will blast off from the Air Force base in Cape Canaveral, Florida around 7:52PM ET. You can watch the space plane's launch live on the United Launch Alliance website beginning at 7:32PM ET. Alternately, get real-time updates via the United Launch Alliance's Twitter feed.

Yahoo details on the X-37B's physical features:

The small X-37B spacecraft resembles a miniature space shuttle and is equipped with its own payload bay about the size of a pickup truck bed - ample space to hold a couple of small satellites that are a few hundred kilograms each, Payton noted.

According to released specifications, the X-37B space plane weighs about 11,000 pounds and is just over 29 feet in length. It stands slightly more than 9 1/2 feet in height and has a wingspan just over 14 feet across.

The X-37B space plane is intended to remain in space up to 270 days. The aim of its mission is, however, unknown.

See more images of the X-37B craft on Space.com.

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Filed by Bianca Bosker  |