SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Set to Launch Secret Spy Mission
It is the first time Falcon 9 will carry U.S.’s X-37B vehicle.
There is little known about SpaceX’s next mission, slated for its 14th Falcon 9 launch of the year Thursday, and that’s for two reasons. One is that it is unknown what the spacecraft is carrying for the U.S. military. The other is unknown by nearly everyone: the chances of nothing happening to the launch, despite Hurricane Irma’s approach.
Irma is set to be about 900 miles southeast of the launch site, according to Patrick Air Force Base and reported by Bloomberg. However, there is also a separate storm that is expected to bring thick clouds. Because of the two storms, the launch is only given a 40 to 60 percent chance of happening on Thursday, Bloomberg reports. There is, however, an opportunity to launch on Friday.
This is the fifth mission for the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, but it would be the first time it will carry a U.S. Air Force space drone, “that’s conducted highly classified missions in orbit for more than a year at a time,” writes Bloomberg.
There are contracts estimated at about $70 billion through 2030 for military launches. These include satellites that allow troops to communicate on battlefields, writes Bloomberg.
The most recent X-37B mission ended in May. It had circled the Earth for more than 700 days. In 2017 alone, SpaceX wants to fly 20 to 24 missions for customers, including National Aeronautics and Space Administration and commercial satellite operators.
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