Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched a Falcon Heavy triple-core rocket from Kennedy Space Center to launch two classified satellites for the US Space Force. Reports indicate that the satellites in question will reinforce a military communications satellite in space.
The launch of the rocket was delayed by a day. The mission, codenamed USSF-67, was earlier scheduled for a launch on Saturday rather than the actual launch time on Sunday, 5:56 p.m. EST
The Falcon Heavy rocket was powered by 27 Merlin engines and generated over 5 million pounds of power during its flight. The rocket was launched from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center at 5:56 p.m. EST and headed east across the Atlantic.
The first of the two satellites launched was the Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM 2 or CBAS-2 satellite, which was launched into geostationary orbit 35,000 kilometers above the Earth.
There was also a ride-on spacecraft called the Long Duration Propulsive ESPA (LDPE)-3A, a payload adapter capable of carrying up to six small satellites. LDPE-3A will carry five Space Force payloads on USSF-67. Among them are two working prototypes for improved situational awareness and a working prototype crypto/interface encryption payload that provides secure space-to-ground communications capability, according to a statement released by Space Force.
This launch was the fifth overall for the Falcon Heavy rocket. The burly rocket made its debut in February 2018 with a memorable test flight that sent SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster into orbit around the sun, with a spacesuit-clad mannequin named Starman in the driver’s seat.
The Falcon Heavy consists of three modified SpaceX Falcon 9 first stages strapped together. The central booster is crowned by a payload-carrying upper stage.
As with Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy’s first stages are reusable. According to Space Force authorities, the two side boosters for USSF-67 will launch for the second flight; They previously flew on USSF-44. The Core Booster for the USSF-67 has never flown before.
USSF-67 is one of several SpaceX projects this week. On Jan. 19, the company also intends to use a Falcon 9 to launch 51 of its broadband Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit.
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