The Mission is shrouded in at least two mysteries: the purpose of the payload it’s carrying for the U.S. military, and its chances of going off without a hitch amid a weather system ahead of Hurricane Irma.
A day after pummeling Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, Irma is forecast to be about 900 miles southeast of the Launch site during Thursday’s take-off, according to the nearby Patrick Air Force Base .
The Spacex Falcon 9 rocket won U.S. Air Force certification for national security space missions in May 2015, breaking a lock long-held by United Launch Alliance , a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. Each of the first four missions for the X-37B involved the Atlas 5, a United Launch Alliance rocket.
“However, it could help increase the Air Force’s comfort level with launching national security payloads on SpaceX in general, which could be a significant source of revenue in the future,” Weeden wrote in an email.
SpaceX plans to fly 20 to 24 missions in 2017 for customers that include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and commercial satellite operators.
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