5th secret mission for X-37B, 1st time launching aboard SpaceX rocket
SpaceX successfully launched the U.S. Air Force's reusable robotic space plane on its latest secret mission today.
The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), built by Boeing, is an unmanned spacecraft that has spent up to 700 days orbiting the Earth on previous missions.
The space plane was launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center at 10 a.m. ET.
Following the launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket returned to SpaceX's landing zone at Kennedy.
The U.S. Air Force has provided few details about this or previous X-37B missions, saying only that the orbiters "perform risk reduction, experimentation and concept-of-operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies." The cost of the program is also classified.