The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, in partnership with the United States Space Force and SpaceX, is in the final stages of preparing for the seventh mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-7). After experiencing delays due to logistical constraints and pad availability, the launch of USSF-52 has been rescheduled for December 12, 2023.
This upcoming mission, known as OTV-7, will be the first time the X-37B is launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Its objectives encompass a range of tests and experiments, including operations in different orbital regions, trials of space domain awareness technologies, and investigations into the effects of radiation on materials relevant to NASA.
These experiments play a crucial role in understanding and ensuring safe and effective operations within the space domain. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall remarked, “this seventh flight of the X-37B underscores the ongoing commitment to innovation within the United States Space Force.”
Having accumulated 3,774 days in space since its inaugural launch in April 2010, the X-37B has undertaken various missions. These missions involved validating Naval Research Laboratory technology for solar energy utilization, studying the effects of prolonged space exposure on organic materials for NASA, and facilitating the launch and operation of a spacecraft developed by cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
With the revised launch date for USSF-52 approaching, collaborative efforts between governmental agencies and private companies are reaching a significant phase in space exploration. The scientific community is looking forward to the potential contributions and findings that this mission may yield in advancing space technology and exploration.