USSF-52 and the X-37B Flies into Secrecy

Falcon Heavy and a streak towards the Moon
Falcon Heavy and a streak towards the Moon

Kennedy Space Center, FL - At 8:07 PM (EST) on December 28, 2023, SpaceX launched the top secret Boeing X-37 B space plane atop a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39-A. This flight is known as USSF-52 and the X-37B mission is for the United States military with a publicly unknown mission and purpose as well as unknown orbit. 

. Photo Credit: Graham Smith for We Report Space
 The previous mission for the X-37 B lasted over 900 days and returned to Earth landing at the Space Florida Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in November 2022. This is the seventh flight for the X-37B.

. Photo Credit: Michael Seeley for We Report Space
In a statement from Assured Access to Space: “This was a very important mission and our teams worked shoulder-to-shoulder to ensure a successful launch,” said Brig. Gen. Kristin Panzenhagen, program executive officer for Assured Access to Space and commander of Space Launch Delta 45. “Our national security space missions are the most stressing within our launch portfolio, and we have multiple world-class organizations that come together to make the magic happen. We’re having a great year, doing what we love to do putting capabilities into space to deter and, if necessary, respond to threats to our nation and its allies.”

Falcon Heavy and a Transit of the Moon. Photo Credit: Michael Seeley for We Report Space
Approximately 8-minutes after launch, the two previously flown side core boosters of the Falcon Heavy returned to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and made a successful landing at LZ-1 and LZ-2 to be refurbished and flown again while the center booster was deemed expendable for this missions needs.

. Photo Credit: Graham Smith for We Report Space
Less than three hours after the launch of USSF-52 from Launch Complex 39-A, a Falcon 9 lifted off from Launch Complex- 40 carrying an additional batch of Starlink satellites into Low Earth Orbit. This Falcon booster made a successful landing on the recovery ship, “A Shortfall of Gravitas”.

. Photo Credit: Michael Howard and the Holidays along the Space Coast
A true double-header for SpaceX as the 2023 launch year is coming to a close and it looks like 2024 will be another record for launches along the Space Coast of Florida.

Images Credits for USSF-52: Michael Seeley, Graham Smith and Michael Howard for We Report Space

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