SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will launch the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) on its fifth mission. SpaceX is targeting launch of OTV-5 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The primary launch window opens on Thursday, September 7 at 9:50 a.m. EDT or 13:50 UTC, and closes at 2:55 p.m. EDT or 18:55 UTC. A backup launch window is available on Friday, September 8. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will attempt to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
OTV-5 will launch on Falcon 9, a two-stage rocket designed from the ground up by SpaceX for the reliable and cost-efficient transport of satellites and SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. As the first rocket completely developed in the 21st century, Falcon 9 was designed from the outset for maximum reliability. Falcon 9’s simple two-stage configuration minimizes the number of separation events – and with nine first stage engines, it can safely complete its mission even in the event of an engine shutdown.