X-37B Boosted into Space

An Air Force-industry team launched the Boeing-built X-37B orbital test vehicle, the first of a new unmanned, reusable space test platform, into space Thursday at 7:52 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., via a United Launch Alliance Atlas V expendable booster. Lt. Col. Erik Bowman, 45th Launch Support Squadron commander, said, “As the first US unmanned re-entering space vehicle, the first of its kind, it has been remarkably easy to work with; processing and preparations went extremely smooth.” He noted, too, that it was a first for the Atlas V 501 configuration, which uses no solid-rocket-motor strap-ons. Bowman said of the small space-shuttle type X-37B, “This vehicle is light enough to launch without the solid rocket motors even with the larger fairing [a five-meter shell encapsulating the X-37], making this a rather unique configuration.” (45th Space Wing release; ULA release; Boeing release)