As 2023 draws to a close, the US Department of Defense’s X-37B spaceplane returned to space on the OTV-7 mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. USSF-52, the fifth Falcon Heavy flight of the year, and ninth overall, lifted off on Dec. 28 at 8:07 PM EST (01:07 UTC on Dec. 29). USSF-52 flew from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
USSF-52 was initially pushed back to Tuesday, Dec. 12, but was delayed again due to the need to complete system checkouts, as per SpaceX, before the latest delay from Dec.13. The Space Launch Delta 45’s launch mission execution forecast gave the weather an 80% chance of being favorable for launch.