The Falcon Heavy SpaceX missile will be launching its most technically demanding mission on Monday night with a ride-on flight organized by the US Air Force. Company founder Elon Musk characterized the mission as "our most difficult start ever".
During this flight with Space Test Program 2, the world's strongest operational missile will attempt to deliver 24 different payloads in three different orbits, causing the Merlin 1D engine for the second stage of the rocket to be repeatedly turned on.
This mission is critical to SpaceX and its Falcon Heavy missile for a number of reasons. First, this is the first time that the Luftwaffe has been flying payloads with a Falcon Heavy missile. And while this mission does not bring critical elements of national security, such as $ 1 billion worth of large satellites or more used for observation, communication, or other purposes to promote national interest, the Look closely at Luftwaffe officials.
The US military is in the process of determining which providers of SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman will receive lucrative launches from 2022 to 2026. The Air Force is expected to select only two winners, and SpaceX has announced this The Falcon Heavy missile can reach all nine Luftwaffe "reference orbits", meaning that heavy payloads are sent to some exotic orbits that require a lot of energy to reach The second stage of the heavy rocket actually has the ability to reach all of these orbits. After launching the rocket and disconnecting its second stage, four separate upper-stage burns are performed, and then satellites are dropped off at three different locations, much like a school bus. These maneuvers require precise upper-level performance over a six-hour period.
Monday night's mission also marks the first time that the US Air Force is flying its payloads on previously used missiles. The two side-mounted Falcon 9 cores for the mission on Monday flew in April on the launch of the Arabsat-6A Falcon Heavy. The central core for the Air Force's flight on Monday is new. The two side-mounted cores will attempt to return to a landing pad on the Florida coast shortly after launch, and the center core will attempt to land on a drone ship with a range of more than 1,200 km.
The rocket will carry some interesting items payload to various government agencies, including NOAA, NASA, Defense Department research laboratories and university research projects. The Air Force Space Test Program organizes launches that "directly enhance the space capabilities of the US and its allies and partners." One of the most intriguing satellites for this launch is a sunshade for The Planetary Society, which will demonstrate abilities that were first popularized by Carl Sagan.
The launch is scheduled for Monday evening (Tuesday, 10:30 pm CET) starting at 10:30 pm CET Start the Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with a four-hour launch window. The forecast provides for a 70 percent chance of favorable starting conditions. The following webcast should start about 15 minutes before the start.
Listing Image by SpaceX