Space Coast prepares for 1st Falcon Heavy launch in over 3 years

Space Coast prepares for 1st Falcon Heavy launch in over 3 years

While SpaceX has knocked Falcon 9s out of the park all year, 2022 was also supposed to have seen multiple launches of the massive Falcon Heavy rocket, which hasn’t flown since 2019.

The first of these looks to fly before the end of the month, is expected to lift off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39-A, according to a US Space Force press release, sending several satellites into orbit for the innovation of the Space Systems Command. and Delta Prototyping.

“We’re approaching launch day, and we’re totally pumped,” Col. Douglas Pentecost, SSC’s deputy program director for Assured Space Access, said in the statement. “Our Launch and Mission Assurance team and SpaceX, along with the fantastic Space Launch Delta 45 crew, did an absolutely superb job getting this rocket ready. We are putting significant national capabilities into space to deal with the threat, and by working together, we ensure one hundred percent mission success.

The Falcon Heavy, which is basically three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, produces more than 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust. While still the strongest operational rocket, the Artemis I mission which is targeting a November launch using the Space Launch System rocket and SpaceX’s running ship with Super Heavy booster will exceed that.

For now, however, Falcon Heavy has the most momentum in business, more than double that of United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy.

The flight would be the fourth in the history of Falcon Heavy, which made its first test flight in 2018 with the notable payload of Elon Musk’s Tesla roadster, which is currently in an orbit that sometimes takes it to the beyond Mars. The launch was a media spectacle and two operational launches since have drawn crowds to the Space Coast, but the last launches were over three years ago.

The last launch in June 2019 was for the Department of Defense space test program and USSF-44 marks the first of what are expected to be several national security space launch missions.

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Unlike previous flights, SpaceX will not attempt to recover all three boosters, only the two side boosters, as the center booster will need to provide more fuel to bring the Space Force payloads into the desired orbit.

This could be the first of three Falcon Heavy launches, including another for the Space Force before the end of the year. A planned launch, however, for NASA’s Pscyhe probe, has been put on hold after problems with the satellite delayed plans to send it to an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter.

USSF 44 had also been delayed from 2021, but its launch within the next two weeks could end the Falcon Heavy drought.

Meanwhile, SpaceX has managed 46 Falcon 9 rocket launches across its three launch pads in Florida and California.

The most recent over the weekend blasted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 1:22 a.m. Saturday, sending the Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13F satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Among ULA, Astra Space and SpaceX launches, the Space Coast has seen 45 liftoffs this year at the rate of more than one per week before the end of 2022.

Follow Orlando Sentinel space coverage on Facebook.com/goforlaunchsentinel.


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