OTV-5 (Falcon 9)
7 September 2017
Space Launch Complex 39A
Kennedy Space Center

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the OTV-5 mission into orbit for the U.S. Air Force at 10:00 a.m. on 7 September 2017 from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. About eight minutes after launch, the Falcon 9 first stage successfully landed at Landing Zone 1 at the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

This is the fifth flight of the Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), a small, winged, reusable spacecraft that looks like a tiny version of the Space Shuttle. Like the Space Shuttle, the X-37B glides back to Earth to land on a runway. OTV-5 is conducting mostly secret operations in Earth orbit with almost everything except the launch being classified.

Leading up to Main Engine Cutoff of the first stage's 9 Merlin engines.
Main Engine Cutoff and separation of the first stage.
The first stage maneuvers for landing as the second stage continues on into orbit with the X-37B.
The first stage fires its engines briefly to slow down as it re-enters the atmosphere. Note the rocket is visible during the entry burn.
After the entry burn, the rocket trails smoke and some residual flames are still visible around the engines.
The landing burn has begun. The final burn that brings the first stage down to a gentle landing at LZ-1.
The landing legs deploy moments before landing.
A cloud of smoke heralds touchdown of the first stage!
The Falcon 9 first stage standing peacefully on Landing Zone 1.
The now empty Pad 39A awaits its next launch.
All contents copyright Lunar Cabin