On Sunday night (Dec. 10), a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is scheduled to launch the X-37B spacecraft for the U.S. Space Force. And it will be possible to watch the launch live.
On December 11, at 01:14 GMT, there will be a 10-minute window during which NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will witness the launch from Launch Complex-39A. If SpaceX webcasts the liftoff, as anticipated, you may watch it live at Space.com.
The reusable X-37B will be launched for the eighth time this year, but it will be its first flight on a Falcon Heavy, which may have implications for its upcoming orbital mission.
Reusable spacecraft known as X-37Bs are capable of flying for hundreds of days at a time while carrying both military and commercial research. They take off vertically atop rockets and land on a runway after gliding back down to Earth.
There have been rumors that the US military may be using them for espionage because of the secrecy surrounding their extended missions.
United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets have been used for five of the six X-37B launches; one launch used a SpaceX Falcon 9.
When it comes to delivering mass into orbit, Falcon Heavy outperforms both of those other rockets, using three Falcon 9 boosters as its first stage.
Some of the goals of the upcoming X-37B mission, also known as OTV-7 (“Orbital Test Vehicle-7”), include “operating in new orbital regimes,” which might mean a higher orbit than typical, further from Earth, given the launch vehicle, according to a recent Space Force announcement.