Storms Stall Space Plane

Storms advance on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station causing the delay of the second launch of an Orbital Test Vehicle. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

CAPE CANAVERAL – The United States Air Force tried to launch their X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) on Mar. 4, but weather that included strong winds, cumulus clouds and rain prevented them from doing so. The Air Force tried during both launch attempts at 3:50 p.m. and 5:27 p.m. EDT, but the weather at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station progressively deteriorated throughout the afternoon and early evening. 

The stubby-winged OTV mini space plane that is built by Boeing, will launch atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41). The primary concern was the very thick cumulus clouds in the area that could have triggered lightning as the Atlas V passed through them, potentially damaging or destroying the vehicle and its payload. 

The OTV is a test platform that will conduct on-orbit experiments. The first of these small, unmanned space planes launch back in April and landed several months later in December. Excluding a blown tire at landing, the flight was apparently a complete success. The X-37B has an interesting history, first starting out as a NASA program before migrating over to the Department of Defense (DoD). Some text articles of the spacecraft were dropped from the famed White Knight aircraft, which carried SpaceShipOne on its history-maiking trips.

The Atlas launch vehicle with its X-37B payload ride out showers at Launch Complex 41. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

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