SpaceX has five Falcon Heavy missions scheduled in its 2023 launch manifest. It is one of the world's most powerful operational rockets, behind NASA’s Space Launch System, and the third highest capacity launch vehicle ever to reach orbit –following NASA’s Saturn V rocket and Russia’s Energia rocket which are no longer operational. Falcon Heavy consists of three modified Falcon 9 first-stage boosters connected side-by-side, with a total of 27 Merlin 1D engines that are capable of producing 5.1 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. SpaceX usually attempts to recover all three Falcon cores with synchronized propulsive landings that are always impressive to watch.
To date, SpaceX has flown Falcon Heavy four times. The powerful rocket’s debut flight was in 2018 when Elon Musk launched the iconic Tesla Roadster carrying Starman on a voyage through deep space. The awe-inspiring mission was a test flight to demonstrate the heavy-lift vehicle’s capabilities. SpaceX’s second Falcon Heavy mission deployed a telecommunications satellite for Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat in April 2019. The third flight was in June 2019, it launched payloads for the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program. Then after a three-year gap, Falcon Heavy soared into the sky carrying the U.S. Space Force’s USSF-44 classified payloads to orbit on November 1st, 2022. Read more: SpaceX's powerful Falcon Heavy rocket launches U.S. Space Force satellites
SpaceX aims to launch five Falcon Heavy missions this year. Today, January 7, the company showed off its massive rocket inside a hangar at the Launch Complex-39A in NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (pictured below), suggesting the next flight will lift off from Florida soon.
Falcon Heavy in the hangar at Launch Complex 39A in Florida pic.twitter.com/juU6Im08zj— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 7, 2023
The next Falcon Heavy flight is expected to launch the U.S. Space Force’s USSF-67 mission, set to lift off as soon as January 12th [all dates are subject to change]. By March, the rocket is scheduled to deploy multiple payloads for ViaSat and Astranis. Then over the Summer, SpaceX will launch the U.S. Space Force USSF-52 mission in April and EchoStar’s Jupiter-3 mission in May with a Falcon Heavy vehicle. By October, SpaceX could have a grand year finale by launching NASA’s asteroid-mining Psyche mission atop a Falcon Heavy rocket, which will send the Psyche spacecraft towards an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Read more about this exciting mission in TESMANIAN’s previous story: NASA delays Psyche asteroid mining mission, SpaceX Falcon Heavy will now launch it until 2023
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.