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.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule were raised vertical at launch pad 39A in Florida late Thursday, setting the stage for a launch day dress rehearsal Friday with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — the veteran space fliers assigned to the Crew Dragon’s first piloted mission later this year — before a critical in-flight test of the ship’s emergency escape system Saturday.
With construction already underway at Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A on facilities for SpaceX’s next-generation Starship vehicle, another new fixture could soon rise at the seaside launch complex to satisfy U.S. military requirements to vertically integrate sensitive top secret spy satellites with Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.