SpaceX will launch its Falcon 9 rocket for the US military Thursday, carrying the X-37B spaceplane to orbit for its fifth mission. Liftoff for the OTV-5 mission is scheduled for a five-hour, five-minute window opening at 09:50 Eastern time (13:50 UTC) out of the Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A in Florida.
Falcon 9 OTV-5 Launch:
Thursday’s launch will begin the X-37B OTV-5 mission, the fifth flight of the US Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), an unmanned reusable spaceplane capable of carrying out operations and experiments in low Earth orbit before returning to Earth.
The Air Force operates a pair of X-37B spacecraft, with missions assumed to alternate between the two vehicles. On this basis, OTV-5 will be the third trip into space for the first X-37B spacecraft.
Developed by Boeing, in partnership with the Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the X-37B evolved from NASA’s X-37A vehicle.
The X-37A, which conducted a series of glide tests in 2006 but never flew in space, was designed to be deployed from the Space Shuttle to carry out independent satellite servicing or scientific missions, capable of staying on orbit beyond the end of the Shuttle’s mission. NASA ...