Spaceflight Insider

Launch of U.S. Air Force’s X-37B on AFSPC-5 mission in pictures

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Mike Deep SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Mike Deep / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — It was one of those missions that, in the beginning, did not seem like it would be a challenging for our team to cover. That perception turned out to be inaccurate with Cape Canaveral Air Force Station being placed under a heightened condition of alert prior to the launch. This was due to threats made by Islamic terrorists, worries about the weather and changes to the launch window – each helped to wear away at the perception that this would be another “routine” launch.

Despite the increased security, the members of United Launch Alliance’s public relations team got photographers from an array of media outlets, including SpaceFlight Insider, out to the launch pad on the day prior to the Wednesday, May 20, in order to field remote cameras.

Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider

Thanks to the efforts of folks from the U.S. Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA ) threats from ISIS did not get in the way of the flight of the mysterious X-37B space plane. The spacecraft began its fourth mission into the blackness of space – at the very opening of the launch window at 11:05 a.m. EDT (15:05 GMT).

ULA and U.S. Air Force representatives provided us with access to SLC-41. They also aided in gaining interviews with key personnel involved in the launch – and for that, we cannot thank them enough. Due to their efforts, the increased security requirements had virtually no effect on the normal flow of events – as is evident in these stunning pictures.

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Mike Deep SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Mike Deep / SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Mike Deep SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Carleton Bailie / SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Jared Haworth SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Jared Haworth / SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Jared Haworth SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Jared Haworth / SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Mike Deep SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Mike Deep / SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Jared Haworth SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Jared Haworth / SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Mike Deep SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Mike Deep / SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Jared Haworth SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Jared Haworth / SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Mike Howard SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket launch AFSPC 5 X-37B LightSail Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 SLC-41 photo credit Mike Deep SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Mike Deep / SpaceFlight Insider

 

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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

David Seaver

Watched the launch from the NASA Causeway. What a great day. With two ten minute launch windows, we were nervous. Your photos are spectacular! Thank you.

As always, some great photos Mike, but that first one is really AWESOME!

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