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Author Topic:   SpaceX Falcon Heavy/OTV-7 (X-37B) from 39A
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 51582
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-08-2023 07:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
U.S. Space Force release
Department of the Air Force Scheduled to Launch Seventh X-37B Mission

The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, in partnership with the United States Space Force, is scheduled to launch the seventh mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Dec. 7, 2023 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Above: Featuring the United States Space Force (USSF) logo for the first time, the encapsulated X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle for the USSF-52 Mission. (Boeing)

The X-37B Mission 7 will launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, designated USSF-52, with a wide range of test and experimentation objectives. These tests include operating the reusable spaceplane in new orbital regimes, experimenting with future space domain awareness technologies, and investigating the radiation effects on materials provided by NASA.

"We are excited to expand the envelope of the reusable X-37B's capabilities, using the flight-proven service module and Falcon Heavy rocket to fly multiple cutting-edge experiments for the Department of the Air Force and its partners," said Lt. Col. Joseph Fritschen, the X-37B Program Director.

X-37B Mission 7, also known as OTV-7, will expand the United States Space Force's knowledge of the space environment by experimenting with future space domain awareness technologies. These tests are integral in ensuring safe, stable, and secure operations in space for all users of the domain.

Chief of Space Operations, Gen. B. Chance Saltzman hailed these experiments as "groundbreaking," saying, "The X37B continues to equip the United States with the knowledge to enhance current and future space operations. X-37B Mission 7 demonstrates the USSF's commitment to innovation and defining the art-of-the-possible in the space domain."

The NASA experiment onboard will expose plant seeds to the harsh radiation environment of long-duration spaceflight. Known as "Seeds-2," the experiment will build upon the successes of prior experiments, paving the way for future crewed space missions.

Previously, X-37B Mission 6 was the first mission to introduce a service module that expanded the capabilities of the spacecraft and allowed it to host more experiments than any of the previous missions. The spacecraft carried the Naval Research Laboratory's Photovoltaic Radio-frequency Antenna Module experiment, which transformed solar power into radio frequency microwave energy, and two NASA experiments to study the results of radiation and other space effects on a materials sample plate and seeds used to grow food. The X-37B Mission 6 also deployed FalconSat-8, a small satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy and sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The Director of the DAF RCO, William D. Bailey, praised the collaborative partnership with industry, noting, "The X-37B government and Boeing teams have worked together to produce a more responsive, flexible, and adaptive experimentation platform. The work they've done to streamline processes and adapt evolving technologies will help our nation learn a tremendous amount about operating in and returning from a space environment."

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 51582
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-28-2023 09:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Systems Command release
Space Systems Command and SpaceX successfully launch third NSSL Falcon Heavy mission for the U.S. Space Force

Space Systems Command (SSC) and SpaceX successfully launched the U.S. Space Force (USSF)-52 mission at 8:07 p.m. Eastern (5:07 p.m. Pacific) Thursday evening (Dec. 28) using a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex (LC)-39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon Heavy carried the seventh mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which is an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the USSF.

"This was a very important mission and our teams worked shoulder-to-shoulder to ensure a successful launch," said Brig. Gen. Kristin Panzenhagen, program executive officer for Assured Access to Space and commander of Space Launch Delta 45. "Our national security space missions are the most stressing within our launch portfolio, and we have multiple world-class organizations that come together to make the magic happen. We're having a great year, doing what we love to do putting capabilities into space to deter and, if necessary, respond to threats to our nation and its allies."

Government mission assurance also benefits from advances by industry partners that provide options that can save time and resources. In the case of USSF-52, that included booster recovery and reuse.

"Missions like these require highly detailed analyses and reviews to meet challenging requirements that are addressed through our mission assurance process," said Dr. Walt Lauderdale, SSC's chief of Falcon Systems and Operations. "Success comes down to the incredible relationships we have with our industry and agency partners and the behind-the-scenes work that makes tough missions appear routine, and ultimately result in capabilities on orbit that give our nation the advantage we need."

The flight proven side boosters supporting USSF-52 were originally flown on USSF-44, which launched to a geosynchronous orbit from LC-39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 1, 2022. The same boosters' second flight was on USSF-67 on Jan. 15, 2023. Expanding reuse for national security space missions is a continuing effort of Space Systems Command's Assured Access to Space directorate and SpaceX. Rapid, reusable rockets benefit all launch customers, creating cost effective access to space while providing both flexibility and additional opportunities to launch missions to orbit as building a new booster every time is not required.

The NSSL Phase 2 contract, awarded in August 2020, incorporated booster reuse from the start, resulting in commercial-like pricing for delivery to commercial-like orbits. As the AATS Directorate implements the Phase 3 strategy, it will continue to increase engagements with up-and-coming innovators that bring additional solutions for the most demanding and low risk tolerant missions. By expanding the family of launch service providers, USSF will continue to deliver on its mission of assured access to space for our nation's warfighters and Joint Command.

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