Air Force’s X-37B Spaceplane To Launch Next Week

The U.S. Air Force's Rapid Capabilities Office is making final preparations to launch the fifth mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) on Sept. 7, the service said Aug. 31.

The Boeing [BA]-built unmanned reusable spaceplane, which will lift off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will host the Air Force Research Laboratory’s second Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader (ASETS-II) payload to test experimental electronics and heat-management technology. The X-37B will also deploy experimental cubesats.

The Air Force's X-37B spaceplane lands at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 7, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Air Force)

The Air Force's X-37B spaceplane lands at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 7, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Air Force)

“The fifth OTV mission continues to advance the X-37B’s performance and flexibility as a space technology demonstrator and host platform for experimental payloads,” the Air Force said.

The X-37B will ride on a Falcon 9 for the first time. The previous four missions used the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket.

The X-37B’s most recent trip ended in May after almost two years in space (Defense Daily, May 8).





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