SpaceX prepares for the third launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket to be fired from the Kennedy Space Center on the night of June 24. Two dozen satellites and a series of experiments, including new, are on the program developed by NASA technology to facilitate the navigation to Mars.
The Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) could be an important key to unlocking space navigation. Thanks to improved technology, this atomic clock is small and stable enough to send into space. Currently, scientists must send a signal from ground-based atomic clocks to a spacecraft before waiting for the return of the ping to determine the range and speed of the spacecraft.
With the DSAC, the signal only has to be sent in one direction, instead of constantly bouncing back and forth. In this way, the spacecraft can calculate its own trajectory just like a GPS. With the planned missions to Mars, DSAC's one-year mission will help researchers develop a more precise tracking system for future missions, which one day could include astronauts. The goal is to investigate how other satellites are affected by space radiation, which can disrupt communications with satellites and even affect the electronics we use here on Earth.
The Planetary Society, a nonprofit space research organization, is making another solar sail attempt after launching Falcon Heavy. Her LightSail2 spaceship hopes to be the first spaceship orbiting the Earth and powered only by sunlight. Although the first LightSail had some technical problems during its flight, it was altogether a successful journey.
The upcoming launch is yet another unmanned test for the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, which will be an important workhorse over the next decade. This is especially true considering the company intends to use the Falcon Heavy for the planned launch of the SpaceX spacecraft Crew Dragon in September. If successful, this mission will be the first to fire Americans from the bottom of the United States since the end of Space Shuttle missions.