The X-37B space plane is one of the most mysterious spacecraft in use right now. Owned and operated by the U.S. Space Force, the X-37B was originally scheduled to launch earlier this month. However, a very coincidental launch of China’s space plane led SpaceX and the Space Force to cancel the launch. Here’s the new target date.
According to new reports, SpaceX will try to launch the X-37B aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket on December 28. The rocket will have a four-hour window to launch, which will start at 7 p.m. ET. If the rocket misses the launch window, SpaceX has not said when it will try again.
As I noted above, SpaceX originally planned to launch X-37B on December 11. However, 30 minutes before liftoff, the launch was canceled, and the plane was pulled off the launchpad completely. The U.S. Space Force never shared a specific reason beyond an issue with ground equipment. Due to the timing of the launch of China’s space plane and statements from a U.S. Space Force General, it was likely delayed due to some covert reasoning, though that is just speculation within the online community.
Not much is known about the Space Force’s X-37B space plane, including how long it will be in orbit. Each of its six missions has been longer than the last, seeing the space plane spend 908 days in orbit before coming home in November 2022. This next mission will likely extend even longer.
Meanwhile, the rocket that SpaceX will use to launch the spacecraft is the second-most powerful rocket currently in operation, behind NASA’s Space Launch System, which lifted Artemis I into space last year. This will be the eighth time that the Falcon Heavy has launched since it became operational.