WASHINGTON, May 6, 2015 (NASA PR) –– Building on more than a decade of data from International Space Station (ISS) research, NASA is expanding its materials science research by flying an experiment on the U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane.
By flying the Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS) investigation on the X-37B, materials scientists have the opportunity to expose almost 100 different materials samples to the space environment for more than 200 days. METIS is building on data acquired during the Materials on International Space Station Experiment (MISSE), which flew more than 4,000 samples in space from 2001 to 2013.
The U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B spacecraft and The Planetary Society’s LightSail prototype will share a ride into space from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday aboard an United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V booster. NASA will also conduct a materials sciences experiment aboard the X-37B.
The launch window opens at 10:45 a.m. EDT and runs until 2:45 p.m. EDT. ULA will webcast the launch at http://www.ulalaunch.com.
The weather forecast shows a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.
The U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane landed safely at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Friday morning, completing a record 674 days in orbit.
The unmanned winged vehicle touched down at 9:24 a.m. PDT after conducting experiments and testing out technologies for 22 months.
“The 30th Space Wing and our mission partners, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, Boeing, and our base support contractors, have put countless hours of hard work into preparing for this landing and today we were able to see the culmination of that dedication,” said base commander Colonel Keith Balts, in a prepared statement. “I’m extremely proud of our team for coming together to execute this third safe and successful landing. Everyone from our on console space operators to our airfield managers and civil engineers take pride in this unique mission and exemplify excellence during its execution.”
The Air Force is planning a fourth X-37B flight in 2015. Officials recently announced they would consolidate program operations at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the X-37 vehicles are launched.
UPDATE: Media reports indicate a landing is likely on Tuesday.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Oct. 10, 2014 (Vandenberg PR) — Preparations for the third landing of the X-37B, the Air Force’s unmanned, reusable space plane, are underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The exact landing date and time will depend on technical and weather considerations.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B Program for use of the center’s Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) Bays 1 and 2 to process the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle for launch.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., Jan. 3, 2014 (Boeing PR) – Boeing [NYSE:BA] will expand its presence in Florida by adding technology, engineering and support jobs at the Kennedy Space Center. Financial and employment details are not being disclosed.
Investments will be made to convert the former space shuttle facility, OPF-1, to a facility that would enable the U.S. Air Force to efficiently land, recover, refurbish, and re-launch the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), a 29-foot-long, reusable unmanned spacecraft.
It looks as if two former space shuttle structures at the Kennedy Space Center will be converted for use by the U.S. Air Force:
Space Florida on Wednesday advanced plans to renovate two former shuttle hangars that might eventually house a secretive military space plane program.
The agency’s board approved spending up to $4 million more to overhaul Orbiter Processing Facilities 1 and 2 at Kennedy Space Center, on top of $5 million committed last year from funds provided by the state Department of Transportation.
As before, the future tenant was not identified, but is believed to be the Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a reusable unmanned system that resembles a small space shuttle. Previously, the Air Force has confirmed it is studying consolidation of X-37B operations at Kennedy or the Cape to save money.
The X-37Bs are launched from Cape Canaveral aboard Atlas V rockets but land in California. If operations are consolidated in Florida, the vehicles would touch down at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility.
NASA is still reviewing options on what to do with the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), which has been largely idle since the last space shuttle touched down 18 months ago.
“Regarding your request for the Shuttle Landing Facility, NASA is currently assessing responses to the recently published Request for Information (RFI) seeking to identify entities that may be interested in maintaining and operating this National Asset,” NASA Associate Administrator L. Seth Statler wrote in a Nov. 30 letter to Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. “A decision regarding the disposition of this asset will follow the completion of the RFI response assessment and review of the Space Florida proposal.”
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., (Dec. 11, 2012) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched the third Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-3) for the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (AFRCO) at 1:03 p.m. EST today from Space Launch Complex-41. The OTV, also known as the X-37B, supports space experimentation, risk reduction, and concept of operations development for long duration and reusable space vehicle technologies. The first two OTV missions also were successfully launched by ULA respectively on April 22, 2010 and March 5, 2011.
Centennial, Colo., Dec. 7, 2012 (ULA PR) -– Today, United Launch Alliance (ULA) cleared the next launch of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) for Dec. 11, after a thorough flight clearance process was executed following a flight data anomaly that occurred on the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-3 launch on Oct. 4.
Florida Today reports that Space Florida has approved spending $5 million to re-purpose facilities at the Kennedy Space Center for a classified military program code named “Project Coyote.”
Speculation centers on the U.S. Air Force’s reusable X-37B shuttle, which launches from Cape Canaveral but lands at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Air Force officials have been looking at saving money by consolidating the program in Florida and landing the autonomous space plane at the Shuttle Landing Facility there.
Documents have linked the spending to the Orbiter Processing Facilities 1 and 2. These structures were used for space shuttle work until the program was canceled last year.
Space Florida is also spending $10 million to prepare Orbiter Processing Facility 3 for use by Boeing for assembling its CST-100 spacecraft. The orbital vehicle is being developed under NASA’s commercial crew program to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.
The money for the upgrades is coming from the Florida Department of Transportation’s $15 million fund for space-related infrastructure upgrades.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — June 16, 2012 — (USAF PR) — The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), the Air Force’s unmanned, reusable space plane, landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5:48 a.m. (PDT) June 16.
OTV-2, which launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., March 5, 2011, conducted on-orbit experiments for 469 days during its mission. (more…)