SpaceX Successfully Launches Air Force Mission From Florida

Hawthorne-based SpaceX successfully launched a secretive, U.S. Air Force space plane into orbit on Thursday morning--and also successfully landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 used in the launch. SpaceX put the USAF's X-37B space plane--developed by Boeing--into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, ahead of what is expected to be rough weather as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida. Cape Canaveral had already begun buckling down operations ahead of the possibility of Irma on Tuesday, entering what it calls Hurricane Condition (HURCON) 5 status. The successful launch of the SpaceX OTV-5 mission removes any complexity that would have been required to tuck away those vehicles and payloads in a safe location if Hurricane Irma does hit Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center, which are within the cone of uncertainty for paths for Irma.