Falcon Heavy is the world’s biggest operational rocket and has just set off for space once again after a three year hiatus.
The launch is part of the USSF-44 classified mission for the United States Space Force that will take its payload to a geosynchronous orbit (GEO) at about 22,000 miles (35,000 km) from Earth — much farther away from Earth than SpaceX’s Starink satellites, which orbit in low Earth orbit (LEO) at 340 miles (550 km) from Earth.
Falcon Heavy was first launched in 2018 and since SpaceX’s focus has shifted to Starship, the yet to be tested rocket that SpaceX, Tesla and now Twitter boss, Elon Musk, hopes will carry humans to Mars one day.
Starship could do what NASA’s Artemis missions aspire to, with human-led missions to the Moon and Mars at some point after 2024. The chief contractor for the Artemis rockets’ core stage is Boeing.
The original plan was set to launch it on Halloween but it was delayed after a test on Thursday,
The Falcon Heavy will carry two payloads, including a larger, unconfirmed satellite and a micro-satellite named TETRA-1, US Space Force said in a statement on one of its YouTube Channels.
“TETRA-1 is the first in a series of prototype GEO satellites launched by the US military, which will test systems procedures for future satellites.”
Via ArsTechnica, the US Space Force offered a few more details. It said its Long Duration Propulsive EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (LDPE ESPA)-2 and Shepherd Demonstration “will carry a variety of payloads that will promote and accelerate the advancement of space technology for the benefit of future Programs of Record.”
Falcon Heavy is a modified version of Falcon 9’s first stage with two boosters versus the Falcon 9’s single core stage. It has a likely lifespan of another five years.
The US Space Force planned to launch this mission in December 2020. Falcon Heavy has 10 more flights scheduled between now and 2024, consisting of five for NASA, three for US Space Forces and two for commercial satellite operators.
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