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USAF prepares to send X-37B back into space
X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. © USAF

USAF prepares to send X-37B back into space

The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office is preparing for the fifth launch of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, scheduled for 7th September on a SpaceX Falcon 9.

The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office is undergoing final launch preparations for the fifth mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV). The OTV is scheduled to launch on 7th September, onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

The fifth OTV mission will continue to explore the X-37B’s performance and flexibility as a space technology demonstrator and host platform for experimental payloads. This mission carries small satellite ride shares and “will demonstrate greater opportunities for rapid space access and on-orbit testing of emerging space technologies,” according to a USAF release.

Building upon the fourth mission and previous collaboration with experiment partners, this mission will host the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader payload to test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long duration space environment.

This will be the programme’s first launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The mission will be launched into, and landed from, a higher-inclination orbit than prior missions to further expand the X-37B’s orbital envelope.

The X-37B program completed its fourth mission on May 7, 2017, landing after 718 days in orbit and extending the total number of days spent in orbit to 2,085.

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