United Launch Alliance fired an Atlas 5 rocket into space from Cape Canaveral at 9:14 a.m. EDT (1314 GMT) Sunday with the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B spaceplane, an automated reusable mini-space shuttle designed to host experiments for years in orbit, then return to Earth and land on a runway. A launch attempt Saturday was scrubbed by bad weather.
The next flight of the U.S. military’s reusable X-37B spaceplane — scheduled for liftoff May 16 from Cape Canaveral — will carry more experiments into orbit than any of the winged ship’s previous missions, including two payloads for NASA and a small deployable satellite built by Air Force Academy cadets.
The next time astronauts land on the moon, they will ride to the lunar surface in a spacecraft that looks a lot different than the Apollo-era landing module last used in 1972. Lander concepts proposed by SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics — which won a combined $967 million in NASA funding Thursday — take wildly different approaches to carrying crews to the moon.
U.S. military officials said Tuesday the launch of the next satellite for the GPS navigation network — planned for April 29 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket — has been delayed to no earlier than June 30 to avoid exposing launch crews to the COVID-19 viral disease. However, the next launch of the military’s X-37B spaceplane remains on track for liftoff in May on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, officials said.