SpaceX Wins Air Force Launch Contract

A Falcon 9 rocket will launch the secretive X-37B space plane later this year.

Mnet 107828 X37 B

SpaceX reportedly secured a contract for the launch of a secretive Air Force project at some point later this year.

CNN reports that Elon Musk's private spaceflight company once again outbid the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance, the military's longtime launch partner, for a defense contract.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed, and most details of the project itself remain largely under wraps.

The Air Force's unmanned space plane, named the X-37B, will launch vertically on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket but, like the Space Shuttle, will land on a runway.

Military officials indicated that the next flight, the fifth for the plane, will test "experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipes" on lengthy trips into space.

ULA launched the last X-37B, which spent nearly two years in space before its mission wrapped up in May.

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