Space Force to launch X-37B space plane on secret mission today. Here's how to watch live.

Editor's note: Bad weather has delayed ULA's Atlas V launch for the X-37B space plane. Next launch attempt is Sunday, May 17, at 9:14 a.m. EDT (1314 GMT). Watch live here.

The Space Force will launch a robotic X-37B space plane on a new secret mission for the U.S. military today (May 16) and you can watch it live online. 

Weather permitting, the X-37B space plane will lift off atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to begin its hush-hush mission in Earth orbit. Liftoff is now set for 10:13 a.m. EDT (1413 GMT) after bad weather prevented a launch try earlier in the day.

You can watch the X-37B launch live here and on's homepage beginning at about 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT). 

You can also watch the launch here directly from the United Launch Alliance, which built the Atlas V rocket for this mission. ULA will begin posting live updates on launch preparations at 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT) before the actual launch. Weather is a key concern, with Air Force officials forecasting just a 40% chance of good conditions for launch. 

Related: The X-37B space plane: 6 surprising facts

For those who serve

Space Force officials said Saturday's launch, called USSF-7, is dedicated to the many first responders and medical personnel who work daily to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"Our invincible American spirit drives us to motivate, collaborate, and innovate together to overcome adversity," Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett said in a statement. "In dedicating this mission to the nation's healthcare workers, first responders, and essential personnel, the Department celebrates those who are keeping America Strong."

"America Strong" is the tagline for this mission, with Space Force and ULA emblazoning it on the side of the Atlas V rocket along with the message: "In memory of COVID-19 victims and tribute to all first responders and front-line workers." 

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which has infected 4.5 million people around the world, 1.4 million of them in the United States. At least 87,427 have died from the disease in the U.S as of today. 

"The U.S. Space Force and United Launch Alliance salute each American serving on the frontlines in our fight against COVID-19," Space Force Chief Gen John Raymond of the U.S. Space Command said in the same statement. "We are proud to dedicate the upcoming launch of USSF-7 to showcase American resolve and national unity during these challenging times."

Related: US Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane (infographic)

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying an X-37B space plane stands atop Space Launch Complex 41 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on May 14, 2020 during launch preparations for the USSF-7 mission. (Image credit: United Launch Alliance)

X-37B's return to space

The upcoming launch will mark the sixth flight of an X-37B space plane (also known as an Orbital Test Vehicle), giving it the designation OTV-6. 

The U.S. Air Force and Space Force have two reusable X-37B space planes, both built by Boeing, for classified missions in low-Earth orbit that can last years. The robotic spacecraft resemble miniature versions of NASA's space shuttles and are powered by a solar array. The first X-37B mission launched in April 2010.

A U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane, encapsulated ahead of a planned May 16, 2020, launch. That liftoff will kick off the sixth mission for the X-37B program. (Image credit: U.S. Air Force)

Some details are available about the upcoming OTV_6 mission. The flight will carry two NASA experiments to study space radiation and the effects of space exposure on materials and seeds for food, Space Force officials have said. 

The spacecraft will also deploy the small FalconSat-8 satellite built by the U.S. Air Force Academy and carry a novel power-beaming experiment built by the Naval Research Laboratory to demonstrate technology to "transform solar power into radio frequency microwave energy which could then be transmitted to the ground," according to a mission description.

Editor's note: Visit Saturday, May 16, for live coverage of the X-37B OTV-6 launch, beginning at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT).

Email Tariq Malik at or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.

  • HumboldtRick
    Military posturing and puffing out one's chest is so un-American it's sickening. Our country is above this bully posture, at least it used to be before the criminal <<Edited for content by moderator>> started letting this crap fester in this country. Disgusting. What a Space Farce.