Launch of Air Force’s OTV Space Plane Slips Again

Photo Credit: Boeing

CAPE CANAVERAL Fla – The third launch of the United States Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle or OTV-3 has been delayed by an additional two weeks. Liftoff had been slated for Nov. 13 – has now slipped to no-earlier-than Nov. 27.

This new launch date is still pending confirmation from the 45th Space Wing regarding the revised range reservation.

The issue that continues to slow the launch has been an issue that cropped during the launch of a Delta IV Medium rocket with its Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-3 satellite. During ascent the upper stage experienced a lower-than-normal engine chamber pressure.

It is felt that the extra two weeks will allow engineers to more adequately assess the flight data. The team will conduct a crossover assessment (to see if the issues that were experienced with the RL-10 engine might crop up with a similar type of engine that will be employed on the Atlas V rocket used to launch OTV-3).

The process being used by the team is one that has been honed over numerous launches and has worked to see the amount of launch failures significantly decline over the years. This will mark the third flight of one of the U.S. Air Force’s unmanned space shuttles and the first time that one of the space planes has been reused.

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