OTV-3 USA-240 2012 12 12.jpg
Launch of USA-240
Mission typeDemonstration
OperatorAir Force Space Command
COSPAR ID2012-071A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.39025
Mission duration1 year, 10 months and 6 days
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeBoeing X-37B
Launch mass5,400 kg (11,900 lb)[1]
PowerDeployable solar array, batteries[1]
Start of mission
Launch date11 December 2012, 18:03 UTC (2012-12-11UTC18:03Z)[2]
RocketAtlas V 501
Launch siteCape Canaveral SLC-41
ContractorUnited Launch Alliance
End of mission
Landing date17 October 2014, 16:24 UTC (2014-10-17UTC16:25Z)[3]
Landing siteVandenberg AFB
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Semi-major axis6,698.18 km (4,162.06 mi)[4]
Perigee altitude320 km (200 mi)[4]
Apogee altitude333 km (207 mi)[4]
Inclination43.50 degrees[4]
Period90.93 minutes[4]
Mean motion15.84[4]
Epoch13 August 2014, 18:50:13 UTC[4]

USA-240, also referred to as Orbital Test Vehicle 3 (OTV-3), is the second flight of the first Boeing X-37B, an American unmanned robotic vertical-takeoff, horizontal-landing spaceplane. It was launched to low Earth orbit aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral on 11 December 2012. Its mission designation is part of the USA series.

The spaceplane was operated by Air Force Space Command, which has not revealed the specific objectives of the mission or identity of the mission's payload. The Air Force stated only that the "mission will incorporate the lessons learned during the refurbishment process on OTV-1. As the X-37B program is examining the affordability and reusability of space vehicles, validation through testing is vital to the process. We are excited to see how this vehicle performs on a second flight."[5][6]


OTV-3, the second mission for the first X-37B, and the third X-37B mission overall, was originally scheduled to be launched on 25 October 2012,[7] but was postponed because of an engine issue with the Atlas V launch vehicle.[8] The X-37B was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral on 11 December 2012.[5][6] In March 2014, OTV-3 broke the X-37B program's endurance record by passing 470 days in space.[9][10]

The vehicle landed at Vandenberg AFB on 17 October 2014 at 16:24 UTC, having spent just short of 675 days in orbit.[3][11]

See also


  1. ^ a b Krebs, Gunter D. "X-37B OTV 1, 2, 3". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  2. ^ "OTV 3: Launch information". National Space Science Data Center. NASA. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Secret space plane lands at US air force base after unknown two-year mission". The Guardian. Associated Press. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "OTV 3 (USA 240) Satellite details 2012-071A NORAD 39025". N2YO. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  5. ^ a b "OTV 3". National Space Science Data Center. NASA. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  6. ^ a b Badger, Eric (11 December 2012). "Air Force launches 3rd X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle". U.S. Air Force. Archived from the original on 21 February 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  7. ^ Ray, Justin (18 September 2012). "Another Atlas 5 readied to launch mini space shuttle". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  8. ^ McCullough, Amy (25 October 2012). "X-37B Launch Delayed". Air Force Magazine. Air Force Association. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  9. ^ David, Leonard (27 March 2014). "US Air Force's Secretive X-37B Space Plane Shatters Orbital Endurance Record". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  10. ^ Hoffman, Mike (1 April 2014). "Air Force's X-37B Breaks Orbit Record". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  11. ^ Wall, Mike (17 October 2014). "X-37B Military Space Plane Lands After Record-Shattering Secret Mission". Retrieved 17 October 2014.