United Launch Alliance (ULA) has scheduled the Atlas V 501 rocket to launch the USSF-7 mission for the U.S. Space Force from Space Launch Complex-41 on May 16, 8:24 a.m. EDT, the agency reported on Friday.
"Despite unprecedented circumstances, we continue to launch critical missions," said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. "We are honored to partner with the U.S. Space Force and Air Force to recognize healthcare workers, first responders and other essential personnel affected by the COVID-19 pandemic."
ULA has organized the mission as a collaborative salute to honor front-line responders and those affected by COVID-19. The launch will mark the sixth flight of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6) and the second mission for the U.S. Space Force.
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 (AFRL) to conduct experiments on orbit.
The mission will also transport 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.
The Naval Research Laboratory will contact another experiment to examine the ability to transform solar power into radio frequency microwave energy which could be transmitted to the ground. To date, ULA has a track record of 100 percent mission success with 138 successful launches.
An Atlas V 501 configuration rocket, which includes a 5-meter-diameter payload fairing, will launch the USSF-7 mission. The Atlas booster for this mission is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage is powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.
The launch on May 16th will mark 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.
With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the worlds most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully launched more than 135 missions to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology.