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.
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.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 4:18 p.m. EDT (2018 GMT), following a delay of more than an hour to troubleshoot a ground hydraulics controller. The Atlas 5 launched with the U.S. military’s sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency strategic communications satellite.
The first launch of a U.S. Space Force mission since the establishment of the new military service is planned Thursday, when a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral with a billion-dollar jam-resistant communications satellite designed to ensure national leaders remain connected with the armed forces.