The X-37B programme started in 1999.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) is targeting a liftoff time of 9:14 AM EDT (6:14 AM PDT) today for an Atlas V rockets carrying the Boeing-built X-37B orbital test vehicle on behalf of the US space force, which is an autonomous winged spaceplane that looks a little like a scaled down version of the Space Shuttle . "The rapid technology advancements enabled by the program will benefit the entire space community and influence the next generation of spacecraft design". "We learn a lot about the value of reusability and autonomy", said Raymond.
A live video stream of the launch showed the Atlas V lifting off into space and the separation of the rocket's first stage from the Centaur upper stage.
The spaceplane is a derivative of the X-37A designed by NASA in the late 1990s to deploy from the space shuttle.More news: 'Little Fires Everywhere' director Lynn Shelton dies at 54
The U.S. Space Force has launched the next X-37B unmanned spacecraft into orbit for a classified mission.
The X-37B's sixth mission is the first to use a service module with additional payload capability to support a variety of experiments for multiple government partners.
Raymond called the module "a trailer ... behind the truck that provides added capacity for experiments", but didn't want to elaborate on the size of the module or how the X-37 was modified to incorporate that upgrade.
The launch was held following protocols because of tight restrictions on access to the Air Force station because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also NASA experiments to study the results of radiation and other space effects on materials and seeds used to grow food. Some space researchers believe that the vehicle was used to launch three cubesats that were not registered in global tracking databases. In March, it hoisted a national security satellite.More news: Biden campaign eyes expanded ‘battleground’ map in race against Trump
"It suggests that the X-37B may have a mission to serve as a covert satellite deployment platform".
X-37B is a classified programme and very little is known about it.
The spacecraft also has some unique performance attributes with regards to maneuverability, according to former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. And we know that that drives them nuts.
The Air Force for a decade kept the X-37B in a cloak of secrecy but it is now openly showing it off as a symbol of USA space dominance.More news: New Zealand's PM Ardern turned away from cafe under coronavirus rules
The Air Force said OTV 6 will carry more experiments than any of the previous X-37B missions.