Space Force launches X-37B plane into orbit for secret mission

Launch of ULA Atlas V rocket scrubbed due to weather, next attempt set for Sunday

The solar-powered X-37B is operated by remote control without a crew, and launched after a 24-hour delay due to poor weather.

"Congratulations on the 6th mission of the X-37B reusable spacecraft", Defense Secretary Mark Esper wrote on Twitter following its launch. The last mission that took place in 2010, lasted for two years.

The one just launched features an extra compartment for experiments, including several for NASA. Their home base is a former space shuttle hangar at Kennedy.

"This X-37B mission will host more experiments than any prior missions", she said. "From a common shape to a common home".

The newly-established Space Force blasted a secretive space plane into orbit from Florida Sunday for a mystery military mission.

Also referred to as the U.S. Air Force's mini space shuttle, the unmanned X-37B was originally designed for orbital missions lasting only 270 days but continues to break longevity records. In March, it hoisted a national security satellite.

The drone, which resembles a smaller version of the manned space shuttles retired by the United States space program in 2011, was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the Air Force said.

The Air Force said in a statement that its launch honors all front-line workers and responders to the COVID-19 pandemic, and those who have been affected by the outbreak.

Flight controllers working the USSF-7 launch were taking precautions amid #COVID19 concerns; weather was the cause of the May 16, 2020 scrub.

Precautions were less evident along area causeways, where spectators parked to watch the Atlas soar. Thick, low clouds spoiled the show.

The U.S. Space Force has launched the next X-37B unmanned spacecraft into orbit for a classified mission.

Before dawn Tuesday, SpaceX will attempt to launch another batch of its Starlink satellites for global internet service. The AP is exclusively responsible for all content. Sign up to receive the week's news in space.

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