Release Number: 011212
12/11/2012 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla -- The
45th Space Wing successfully launched an Atlas V Evolved Expendable
Launch Vehicle, built by United Launch Alliance, at 1:03 p.m. EST today
from Space Launch Complex 41 here. The rocket launched in the 501
vehicle configuration with a five-meter fairing, no solid rocket
boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.
The Atlas V rocket carried into Low Earth Orbit an X-37B Orbital Test
Vehicle (OTV), which is beginning its second flight following
refurbishment, which spent 224 days, 9 hours and 24 minutes in orbit
between April and December 2010 on the inaugural OTV launch.
A second OTV mission spent 468 days, 13 hours and 2 minutes on a voyage
from March 2011 to this past June that circled the earth more than 7,000
A combined team of military, government civilians and contractors from
across the 45th Space Wing provided vital support to this third OTV
mission, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations,
security, safety and public affairs.
The wing also provided its vast network of radar, telemetry, optical and
communications instrumentation to facilitate a safe launch on the
Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander, 45th Space Wing, who also served
as the Launch Decision Authority, said this was a very historic and
important launch for the Air Force and the entire team should be
commended for their first-rate, professional work that ensured another
"We are indeed fortunate to have a very talented "launch team" that works so well together," said Gen. Cotton.
"The teamwork across Air Force Space Command and with our "Team Patrick /
Cape" mission partners made this launch a success and is another
example of how our Air Force delivers assured space launch, range and
combat capabilities for the nation," he added.
The X-37B provides a flexible "on-orbit laboratory" test environment to
prove new technology and components in space, before those technologies
are committed to operational satellite programs. Technologies on the
vehicle are expected to make access to space more responsive and
conducting experiments in space more affordable.
Upon command from the ground, the OTV autonomously re-enters the
atmosphere, descends and lands horizontally on a runway located on
Vandenberg AFB, Calif.