Atlas V rocket lifts off for US Space Force mission

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(CNN) — United Launch Alliance on Sunday successfully launched its Atlas V rocket carrying the secretive X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, one day after bad weather in Cape Canaveral, Florida, delayed initial launch plans.

The launch kicked off USSF-7, a mission of the fledgling US Space Force, a branch of the US Armed Forces.

Sunday’s liftoff marks the sixth flight for the test vehicle, according to ULA, a private venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

On it’s last mission, the craft spent 780 days in Earth’s orbit before landing in October. So far, each flight has been longer than the one before it.

Sunday’s launch, at 9:14 a.m. ET, was dedicated to the front-line workers battling the Covid-19 pandemic and those affected by it, with a written dedication affixed to the rocket’s payload, according to ULA.

“We were honored to partner with the US Space Force to dedicate this mission to first responders, front-line workers, and those affected by Covid-19,” Gary Wentz, vice president of Government and Commercial Programs at ULA, said in a statement.

“It is truly a unique time in our history and I want to thank the entire team for their continued dedication and focus on mission success,” Wentz said.

The launch was supposed to happen Saturday, but ULA pushed it back, citing weather.

Tropical Storm Arthur, the first tropical storm of hurricane season, formed in the Atlantic Ocean late Saturday night.

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