Published: Fri, September 08, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

SpaceX readies rocket to launch secret space mission

SpaceX readies rocket to launch secret space mission

The launch vehicle used was SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which took off from the company's LC-39A launch facility at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday morning at 10 AM ET (7 AM PT).

In yet another milestone in its efforts to reuse the spaceplane, the Elon Musk company SpaceX today launched Falcon 9 rocket for the United States military. The last SpaceX mission was in May when it launched X-37B, which is an Orbital Test Vehicle, with 20 percent less size of the retired reusable Space Shuttle.

X-37B flights typically last for months. OTV-1 lifted off in April 2010 and logged 224 days in orbit; OTV-2 launched in March 2011 and spent 468 days in space.

Like the space shuttle, the X-37B launches vertically and comes to back to Earth horizontally, in a runway landing. For comparison, the space shuttles were 122 feet (37 m) long, with 78-foot (24 m) wingspans.

The Air Force is known to possess two X-37Bs, both of which were built by Boeing. Video coverage of the booster's plunge back to Earth continued, and three of the first stage's Merlin 1D powerplants restarted high over the Atlantic Ocean for "boost-back" and "entry" burns to steer the rocket back toward land.

That launch followed back-to-back wins of the first two Global Positioning System 3 launch contracts the Air Force put out for bid.

You can watch a livestream of the launch and landing attempt below. Given the top-secret nature of the X-37B's [spying] mission, there's little that we know about its orbit or what it could possibly be carrying aboard.

The SES 11/EchoStar 105 spacecraft has been delivered to Cape Canaveral from its Airbus Defense and Space factory in Toulouse, France. We will keep a close eye on the progression of the storm and wish both the residents of Florida and the many tenants of the Space Coast the best of luck as they hope to weather yet another large hurricane.

Another Falcon 9 rocket is due for launch October 4 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the third batch of 10 next-generation voice and data relay satellites for Iridium.

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