The second X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-2) built for the US Air Force was rolled out today (March 3) to the Atlas rocket launch pad at Space Launch Complex-41(SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
The experimental OTV-2 is poised to blast off on Friday, March 4 on an Atlas V rocket in a launch window that extends from 3:39 pm to 5:39 p.m. EST. The X-37B is encapsulated in a 5 meter fairing.
The secret cargo and experiments loaded aboard are shrouded behind a veil of military security.
UPDATE: Due to weather concerns, the launch has been postponed until Saturday, March 5. Weather is predicted to improve to 40% favorable for launch.
Air Force technicians are completing final preparations for the late afternoon blast off of the bronze colored rocket topped by the extra long payload fairing to accommodate the OTV-2.
The rocket is sitting atop the mobile launch platform and was pushed about 1800 feet from the 31 story Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) to launch pad 41 by twin diesel powered trackmobiles. See my photo album of today’s X-37B rollout and close up visit to the Atlas rocket at SLC-41.
“No major changes were required from the OTV-1 flight based on post-flight assessments, but we did make a few minor modifications based on lessons learned from the first flight,” Tracy Bunko, Maj, USAF of the Air Force Press Desk told me in an interview.
“We’re pleased with what we’ve seen so far. Technology assessments are ongoing in areas including re-entry guidance, navigation, and control, thermal protection systems, and flight actuation systems.”
“We want to potentially test the landing capabilities in stronger wind conditions,” Bunko explained.
Read the mission preview and launch report by Jason Rhian
Sequence of Photos showing rollout of Atlas V rocket, from right to left