Air Force Prepares to Launch its Fifth Orbital Test Vehicle Mission

In a testing procedure, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle taxis on the flightline at Vandenberg AFB. Photo: U.s Air Force.

In a testing procedure, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle taxis on the flightline at Vandenberg AFB. Photo: U.s Air Force.

The U.S. 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 Sept. 7 onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

The fifth OTV mission continues to advance 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. 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 (ASETS-II) payload to test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long duration space environment.

This will be the program’s first launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The fifth OTV mission will also 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, landing after 718 days on orbit and extending the total number of days spent on orbit to 2,085.

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