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Fifth Air Force Spaceplane Mission to Launch Aboard SpaceX Rocket

Fifth Air Force Spaceplane Mission to Launch Aboard SpaceX Rocket - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Fifth Air Force Spaceplane Mission to Launch Aboard SpaceX Rocket - top government contractors - best government contracting event

The U.S. Air Force has entered final launch preparations for the fifth mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle ahead of its scheduled Sept. 7 deployment aboard SpaceX‘s Falcon 9 rocket.

The service branch said Thursday the Boeing-built X-37B OTV spaceplane will carry ride-sharing small satellites and perform on-orbit tests of new space technologies.

X-37B will also demonstrate experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in long duration space environment through the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader payload.

The fifth OTV mission will mark the program’s first launch on Falcon 9 and will be deployed into a higher inclination orbit than previous missions to extend the spaceplane’s orbital envelope, the Air Force noted.

The military branch used United Launch Alliance‘s Atlas V rockets for the first four OTV missions.

Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said the partnership with SpaceX will help the Air Force create “flexible and responsive launch options” for the X-37B program, Spaceflight Now reported Thursday.

After launch, SpaceX aims to retrieve Falcon 9’s first stage from the Landing Zone-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The move will be the seventh attempt of a Falcon 9 first stage booster to land on its launch site, the report noted.

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