The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, in collaboration with the United States Space Force (USSF) and SpaceX, is preparing for the launch of the seventh mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-7). Scheduled for December 10, 2023, this mission, designated USSF-52, is a significant milestone in U.S. military space operations.
The upcoming OTV-7 mission will be the first time the X-37B launches aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. This partnership between the U.S. military and SpaceX showcases the growing synergy between governmental space efforts and the private sector. The Falcon Heavy, known for its high payload capacity, is an ideal choice for this mission, which includes a variety of experimental objectives.
Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall emphasized the importance of the mission, stating that it “continues to demonstrate the innovative spirit of the United States Space Force.” The tests planned for OTV-7 cover a range of areas, including operations in new orbital regimes, space domain awareness technologies, and studying the impact of radiation on NASA materials. These experiments are crucial for ensuring secure and responsible activities in space.
Since its first flight in April 2010, the X-37B has spent a total of 3,774 days in orbit. This Boeing-developed spaceplane, operated by the U.S. Air Force and now the USSF, is designed for long-duration missions. Its ability to return experiments to Earth for analysis makes it a valuable asset for advancing space technology. Previous missions of the X-37B have tested various technologies and facilitated important research projects.
This upcoming mission highlights the USSF’s commitment to maintaining a strategic advantage in space, a domain that is increasingly important for national security and scientific exploration. The USSF, established in December 2019, works closely with the Department of the Air Force and other military branches to ensure the United States remains at the forefront of space operations.
The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, known for its focus on developing and fielding cutting-edge technologies, plays a vital role in supporting national security objectives.