Updated: May 19
On Sunday May 17th the United States Space Force completed its second mission, launching Boeing’s classified X-37B space plane atop a United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket. The launch had scrubbed the previous day due to range restrictions on the weather. This was the 6th launch of the Orbital Test Vehicle.
At 9:13am EDT the Atlas V rocket slowly began its climb before slipping through the low cloud cover. After roughly three minutes of flight, the first stage engine shut down releasing the second stage and firing up its single Centaur engine. This marked the 84th successful launch of a ULA Atlas V and the second launch for the newly formed United States Space Force.
Previously, the X-37B spent 779 days in orbit, shattering the record for the longest orbit of a reusable spacecraft. Although the Air Force remains tight-lipped on what exactly it is that the X-37B does, we do know that on the past it has been used as a test need for new propulsion technology and on this flight, it will be used for a Navy experiment to explore the possibility of converting solar energy into radio frequency to transmit to earth from orbit.
Set your calendar for 2 years from now when we might hear a sonic boom as the craft re-enters the atmosphere and glides back to Kennedy Space Center.