Update: SpaceX is now aiming to launch the first Falcon.Heavy rocket of 2023 on Sunday, January 15 at 5:56 pm EST (2256 GMT).
SpaceX’s powerful Falcon Heavy rocket will begin operating again on Sunday (Jan. 15), and liftoff will be watched live.
A Falcon Heavy It is scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 5:56 p.m. EST (2255 GMT) on Sunday, a day later than previously announced, on a classified mission. US Space Force Called USSF-67.
Watch it live here on Space.com SpaceX, or directly through the company. We will host a company webcast when the time comes.
Related: Why SpaceX hasn’t flown a Falcon Heavy rocket since 2019
Sunday’s launch will be the fifth for Falcon Heavy. Burley Rocket Launched in February 2018 With a memorable test flight that sent the founder and CEO of SpaceX Elon MuskA Tesla Roadster in orbit around the Sun, with a spacesuited mannequin named Starman in the driver’s seat.
Falcon Heavy launched again in April 2019 and June 2019, sending operational satellites aloft each time. However, the rocket did not fly again until November last year USSF-44 mission For the Space Force. According to space industry analysts, the 40-month gap was primarily due to delays in preparing customer payloads.
Like USSF-44, USSF-67 is a classified mission. However, we do know quite a bit about the upcoming flight.
The main payload is a military communications satellite called Continuous Broadcast Augmentation SATCOM 2, which Falcon Heavy will launch into a geostationary orbit about 22,200 miles (35,700 kilometers) above Earth. Also flying Saturday is a rideshare spacecraft called Long Duration Propulsive ESPA (LDPE)-3A, a payload adapter that can hold six small satellites. According to EverydayAstronaut.com (opens in new tab).
The LDPE-3A will carry five Space Force payloads aboard USSF-67. They include “two working prototypes for enhanced situational awareness and a working prototype crypto/interface encryption payload that will provide a secure space-to-ground communications capability,” Space Force officials said in an emailed statement Friday (Jan. 13).
Falcon Heavy consists of three modified SpaceX Hawk 9 First stages, they are connected together. The central booster is at the top with the top stage carrying the payload.
Falcon Heavy first stages, like Falcon 9, are reusable. Two sided boosters for USSF-67 will be launched a second time; They flew on USSF-44, Space Force officials said. The USSF-67 core booster had never flown before.
If all goes as planned, the two side boosters will return to Earth shortly after liftoff on Saturday and make vertical touchdowns at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station next to KSC. The central booster does not return, instead heading out into the Atlantic Ocean.
USSF-67 is part of SpaceX’s busy week. The company plans to launch its 51 Starlink Internet satellites in low Earth orbit beyond Falcon 9 And. 19. You can view that mission here on Space.com.
By Mike Wall “outside (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelWall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) Or Facebook (opens in new tab).