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Irma's clouds may bump SpaceX spy plane launch

Elon Musk's rocket company plans to launch the Air Force's X-37B experimental space plane from Kennedy Space Center just ahead of the hurricane's arrival.

x37_orbit.jpg

An artist's concept of the Air Force's X-37B spaceplane in orbit.

Boeing

Increasingly scary Hurricane Irma is threatening Florida, putting SpaceX's first stab at launching the Air Force's X-37B spy plane in jeopardy.

Boeing has built at least two of the unmanned spacecraft, which resemble a smaller version of the space shuttle, for the military. One of them landed in May at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) following 718 days of continuous flight doing... well, it's a secret. 

The latest launch of the space drone is currently set for Thursday with SpaceX in charge of delivering the X-37B to orbit for the first time via one of its Falcon 9 rockets. 

Record-setting Irma is currently on a path for Florida where the launch is currently set for 6 a.m. ET from KSC. While the super cyclone is not likely to hit Florida until later in the week, the Air Force said Tuesday that thick clouds have increased the odds that the SpaceX launch could be scrubbed to 50 percent. 

The backup launch day is Friday and the forecast is no better: Irma is expected to be over 300 miles closer and the odds of scrubbing go up to 60 percent.

Whenever SpaceX manages to launch the space spy plane, it won't be the first top secret mission Elon Musk's company has performed. It also launched a secret spy satellite earlier this year

We'll keep an eye on both SpaceX and Irma to see what develops this week. If you're in or near the path of Irma, check in regularly with the National Hurricane Center for the latest developments.

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