Gusty winds associated with a subtropical low pressure system prevented United Launch Alliance from sending an Atlas 5 rocket into orbit Saturday from Cape Canaveral with the U.S. Air Force’s clandestine X-37B spaceplane. ULA plans to try again Sunday, and a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from a nearby pad has been delayed to Tuesday.
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.
Engineers working for Spaceflight, a Seattle-based launch services company, are in the final steps of preparing for the first launch of new robotic free flyers carrying more than 70 small government and commercial satellites into polar orbit later this year aboard a dedicated flight of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.