U.S. Air Force Successfully Launches X-37B Space Plane Aboard SpaceX Falcon 9

By  //  September 7, 2017

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ABOVE VIDEO: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) on its fifth mission earlier this morning. The Launch broadcast begins at 7:00 minute mark. 

BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER — The U.S. Air Force successfully launched the X-37B space plane aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 earlier this morning from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 10:00 a.m.

This is the X-37B’s fifth mission and it will be outfitted with the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader created by the Air Force Research Lab to “test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipes in the long duration space environment.”

The Air Force’s secret unmanned spaceplane made a surprise landing at Kennedy Space Center on May 7 and has spent a total of 2,085 days in orbit.

During the most recent 718-day period of operation, the plane conducted on-orbit experiments, the nature of which were not made public by the U.S. Air Force.

The returning X-37B last May announced its arrival with a sonic boom, giving Space Coast residents their second booming wakeup call in a week.

ABOVE VIDEO: The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane blasted off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 today from Kennedy Space Center. ( US Military News video)

When the small craft’s wheels touched down on the Shuttle Landing Facility runway just before 8 a.m., it marked the first time that a spacecraft landed at Kennedy Space Center since the last flight of space shuttle Atlantis nearly six years ago.

Three previous X-7B missions all concluded at Edwards Air Force Base in California. But the Air Force now maintains one of three former shuttle hangars at KSC for the X-37B program, allowing the Boeing-built spaceplane to launch, land, and be refurbished at the same spaceport.

Because of the secretive nature of the X-37B’s missions, we don’t know why the spaceplane is going up this time, or for how long.

SpaceX was also happy with the 16th successful landing of the reusable Falcon 9’s rocket booster. The rocket, which produced sonic booms across the Space Coast, touched down on it’s four legs at Landing Zone 1, also located at Cape Canaveral.

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