SpaceX is preparing to launch the world’s most powerful operational rocket, Falcon Heavy. The 27 engine rocket could lift off next week. It will be the first time since 2019 that SpaceX launches the three-core rocket, which consists of three modified Falcon 9 first-stage boosters connected side-by-side, each with 9 Merlin 1D engines that are capable of producing 5.1 million pounds of thrust upon liftoff. Falcon Heavy is the third highest capacity launch vehicle to ever reach orbit – following NASA’s Saturn V rocket and Russia’s Energia rocket which are no longer operational.
The upcoming Falcon Heavy spaceflight is booked by the United States Space Force (USSF) which will launch a pair of classified payloads identified as the USSF-44 mission. On Sunday, October 23, SpaceX shared a cool photograph of Falcon Heavy inside a hangar located at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex-39A. The photo showcases the gigantic rocket's 27 Merlin 1D engines which are fueled by a combination of RP-1 rocket grade Kerosene and liquid oxygen, pictured above.
The USSF-44 launch is scheduled to lift off NET October 31 at 9:44 a.m. ET [date is subject to change]. The mission will deploy two spacecraft directly into geosynchronous orbit, the military’s TETRA-1 satellite and the other is a secret payload. TETRA-1 is a military satellite designed to “prototype missions and tactics, techniques and procedures in and around geosynchronous Earth orbit,” according to Space Force officials. The military does not release many details about classified missions due to national security, all that is known is the combined mass of the payloads is around 3,700 kilograms.
The U.S. Space Force paid SpaceX approximately $130 million dollars for launch services. The USSF-44 mission has been delayed for around 2 years due to undisclosed payload issues, it was originally scheduled to launch in 2020.
Soon after USSF-44 launch, the Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters are expected to be recovered with synchronized landings on Landing Zone 1 and Zone 2 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which is always impressive to watch.
Falcon Heavy has only performed three missions since 2018. The first was a demonstration flight test that launched the iconic Tesla Roadster with the 'Starman' astronaut mannequin in the driver's seat. Demonstration missions are usually done with giant concrete blocks atop rockets and SpaceX wanted to launch something fun to inspire people instead of a boring concrete block.
SpaceX’s second Falcon Heavy mission deployed the Arabsat telecommunications satellite for Saudi Arabia in April 2019. The third flight took place in June 2019, it launched the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program payload composed of 24 small spacecraft. The mission showcased SpaceX's capabilities to perform complex missions by placing the two-dozen payloads into distinct orbits.
Falcon Heavy in the hangar at Launch Complex 39A pic.twitter.com/Ul1Ti8e8qH— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 23, 2022
All Featured Images 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.