A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket is scheduled to launch the USSF-7 mission for the U.S. Space Force from Space Launch Complex-41 on Sunday at 9:14 a.m. EDT. This launch will mark the sixth flight of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6).
Along with OTV-6, the mission will deploy FalconSat-8, a small satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy and sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory to conduct experiments on orbit. The mission also carries two NASA experiments, including a material sample plate to determine the results of radiation and other space effects on various materials. Another NASA experiment will assess space effects on seeds used to grow food. Another experiment sponsored the Naval Research Laboratory will examine the ability to transform solar power into radio frequency microwave energy which could be transmitted to the ground.
The Atlas V 501 rocket will use a five-meter-diameter payload fairing for this mission. The Atlas is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage is powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine. This will be the 84th launch of an Atlas V rocket and the seventh launch of the 501 configuration. The Atlas V 501 has been used exclusively for national security missions.