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.
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.
The sixth and final satellite in the U.S. military’s network of ultra-secure, nuclear-hardened AEHF communications relay stations has arrived in Florida for final preparations for liftoff in March on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, the first of nearly 20 U.S. Space Force missions planned for launch in the first year of operations for the new military service.