X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle

The US Air Force (USAF) Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has successfully launched the AFSPC-5 mission with support of a United Launch Alliance at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The mission was launched on the Atlas V 501 evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV).

AFSPC-5 carried the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle or OTV-4, a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the USAF in support of national security.

This new development marked the fourth time that the X-37B has flown on an Atlas V launch vehicle.

SMC commander lieutenant general Samuel Greaves said: "Today’s successful launch is the direct result of dedicated government (and) contractor teamwork, and (the) focus on mission success.

"AFSPC-5 carried the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle or OTV-4 for the USAF in support of national security."

"This marks (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle’s) 83rd successful launch and we will continue our unwavering focus on mission success."

The booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, while the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.

ULA Atlas and Delta Programs vice-president Jim Sponnick said: "The seamless integration between the air force, Boeing, and the entire mission team culminated in today’s successful launch of the AFSPC-5 mission."

This mission also includes the aft bulkhead carrier (ABC) that is carrying the National Reconnaissance Office’s (NRO) ultra-lightweight technology and research auxiliary satellite (ULTRASat), which comprises ten CubeSats managed by the NRO and Nasa.

The USAF established the EELV programme to offer assured access to space for the Department of Defense and other government payloads.

Image: An Atlas V rocket successfully launches the AFSPC-5 mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance.