Bad weather has forced the United Launch Alliance (ULA) to shift the scheduled launch of the Space Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle from Saturday to Sunday. The shift has also occasioned the planned launch of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites from Sunday to Monday.
ULA’s launch of the Atlas V rocket was planned to take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Launch Complex 41 but ground winds and cumulus clouds monitored by the National Hurricane Center made it impossible. The new launch day and time are set for Sunday at 9:14 am ET and this was confirmed by ULA’s Launch Director Paul Aragon.
“Darn weather. See you tomorrow. Going to need everyone to focus on those calm, clear thoughts even harder,” said ULA CEO Tony Bruno on Twitter.
The Atlas V will launch the USSF-7 mission for the US Space Force which is to airlift the sixth flight of the secret and military X-37B orbital test vehicle into space.
With the development, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch earlier slated for Sunday is now bumped to 3:32 am on Monday morning. The launch of the Space Force’s secretive X-37B takes priority over that of SpaceX’ since the former is a military project. SpaceX’s launch will send off 60 of the company’s Starlink satellites into orbit – the eighth launch of the satellites for SpaceX – planned to launch from Complex 40 of Cape Canaveral.
Designed by Boeing to fly in low-Earth orbit, ULA’s X-37B rocket weighs 761,457 pounds. ULA is a private organization created by Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space, and Security in 2006. ULA manufactures and manages several rockets that can orbit spacecraft.
“The X-37B team continues to exemplify the kind of lean, agile, and forward-leaning technology development we need as a nation in the space domain,” said Gen. John Raymond, Space Force Chief of Space Operations. “Each launch represents a significant milestone and advancement in terms of how we build, test, and deploy space capabilities in a rapid and responsive manner.”