US Space Force prepares X-37B for launch

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, in partnership with the United States Space Force and SpaceX, is making final preparations to launch the seventh mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. Due to launch delays and pad availability, USSF-52 will now launch on Dec. 10, 2023.

The seventh mission of the X-37B, also known as OTV-7, will be the first to launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket—designated USSF-52—with a wide range of test and experimentation objectives. These tests include operating in new orbital regimes, experimenting with space domain awareness technologies and investigating the radiation effects to NASA materials.

These tests are key to ensuring safe and responsible operations in space for all users of the space domain. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said about the mission, “this seventh flight of the X-37B continues to demonstrate the innovative spirit of the United States Space Force.”

The X-37B, which first launched in April 2010, has accrued a total of 3,774 days in space. The previous missions have successfully experimented with Naval Research Laboratory technology designed to harness solar energy and transmit power to the ground; tested the effects of long-duration space exposure to organic materials for NASA; and provided an opportunity to launch a spacecraft designed and operated by cadets at U.S. Air Force Academy.