SpaceX Falcon Heavy completes static fire at KSC, targets Saturday launch

Richard Tribou | (TNS) Orlando Sentinel

SpaceX announced it could fly its next Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center as early as Saturday.

The company completed a full-duration static fire at KSC’s Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday for the company’s powerful rocket set to fly on the Space Force’s USSF-67 mission with a launch around sunset, although the company has not publicly announced a target launch time.

While Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex had posted the launch could come as early as Thursday, the one-day delay of a Falcon 9 launch for OneWeb this week coupled with an expected 80% chance of rain on Friday makes Saturday the next viable option.

The OneWeb launch that lifted off just before midnight Monday featured a return of its first-stage booster to Cape Canaveral’s Landing Zone 1, and both Landing Zone 1 and the adjacent Landing Zone 2 would need to be clear and ready for the planned recovery of two of the Falcon Heavy’s three first-stage boosters.

The flight would be just the fifth ever for Falcon Heavy, which is basically three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together that produced 5.1 million pounds of thrust through 27 Merlin engines. Aside from NASA’s Space Launch System that has made one flight to date on Artemis I, the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful flight-tested orbital rocket available.

A weekend launch could bring out the crowds to the Space Coast to enjoy both the powerful launch and the sonic booms that come with the double booster landing.

The boosters on USSF-67 flew on the last Falcon Heavy launch on Nov. 1, also a mission for the Space Force, and the first National Security Space Launch for SpaceX.

This flight looks to send up the Space Force’s second Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM communications satellite and the Long Duration Propulsive ESPA 3A, or LDPE 3A, ride share satellite that can host or deploy up to six payloads.

SpaceX has a third Space Force mission dubbed USSF-52 expected in the first half of 2023 as well. Before last November’s launch, though, there had been more than a three-year drought between its third and fourth flights.

It first launched in 2018 amid hundreds of thousands who crowded along the Space Coast to witness the flight of Elon Musk’s Tesla roadster into space, which was acting as the test payload for the new rocket. SpaceX followed that up with a commercial payload in April 2019 and then a Department of Defense mission in June 2019.

Later in 2023, a Falcon Heavy will be used to send NASA’s Psyche probe on its way to the asteroid of the same name, a mission delayed from 2022.

Share the Post:

Related Posts