The United States Air Force (USAF) is preparing their secretive X-37B space plane for its fifth mission in early September. As always, most of the X-37B’s payload and mission is classified, but Space.com has reported that the launch may be slated for early September.
The fifth mission of the X-37B, known as Orbital Test Vehicle-5 (OTV-5), is different from previous launches in that the space plane will be carried into orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The previous four X-37B missions arrived in space via a Lockheed Martin-Boeing Atlas V rocket. The Falcon 9 costs about $62 million per launch due to it being partially reusable, compared to the Atlas V’s $109 million per launch.