SpaceX fought hard for the right to launch Air Force projects and it has landed a pretty prestigious one. Elon Musk's company will fire the X-37B miniature spaceplane into orbit with the Falcon 9, taking over from the reliable Atlas V built by United Launch Alliance, according to Reuters. And here's the kicker: It will launch the space shuttle-like drone in just two months, meaning it will be SpaceX's first mission for the Air Force.
Perhaps because of the secrecy around the X-37B, the Air Force made its announcement just months ahead of the launch. It was thought that the private space company's first Air Force mission would be lofting a GPS satellite into orbit 2018, since it was awarded a contract for that last year. It's been speculated that the unmanned spaceplane, which lands back on Earth like the space shuttle, is used for top-secret reconnaissance or even anti-satellite purposes.