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SpaceX to launch top-secret military vehicle

07 September 2017

The launch will be SpaceX's second national security payload, following a spy satellite launch for the NRO in May, and the first time launching the Air Force's autonomous mini-space shuttle.

Few details are available about this secretive mission, but the primary launch window opens on Thursday 9:50am ET, and closes at 2:55pm ET. The last SpaceX mission was in May when it launched X-37B, which is an Orbital Test Vehicle, with 20 percent less size of the retired reusable Space Shuttle.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane moves to Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida for a September 7, 2017 launch.

You can watch a livestream of the launch and landing attempt below.

SpaceX gained its USA military payload certification in 2015, and the USAF is hoping to diversify its orbital test vehicle launch capabilities with SpaceX with this launch, provided everything goes smoothly. As the first rocket completely developed in the 21st century, Falcon 9 was designed from the outset for maximum reliability.

The lift off is scheduled from the Kennedy launch pad when the Cyclonic hurricane Imra is just 900 miles southeast of Florida, putting the mission at risk. Officials said a launch delay to Friday would diminish launch possibilities even more - to a 40 percent. What exactly the unmanned ship, referred to as the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, has been tasked to accomplish is unclear.

With Hurricane Irma set to barrel down upon the US shortly, SpaceX will attempt to launch a US Air Force drone into orbit today.

They added that the mission will host a payload to test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies for use in long-duration missions.

SpaceX to launch top-secret military vehicle