After years of payload preparation, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket stands ready to launch one of the company’s most-challenging missions to date. Space Test Program 2 (STP-2), a U.S. Air Force contracted flight with 24 government and civilian testbed payloads, is slated to launch within at 4-hour launch window tonight from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
The launch window opens at 23:30 EDT on Monday, 24 June (03:30 UTC on Tuesday 25 June). After liftoff, the Falcon Heavy’s second stage will spend roughly 3.5 hours performing 20 deployments of 24 satellites into various orbits and various orbital inclinations.
Falcon Heavy: A unique mission
STP-2 will be a one-of-a-kind mission for SpaceX and the Falcon Heavy rocket.
The triple-booster rocket – the world’s most powerful currently-operational rocket – will blast off under 5.1 million lbf of thrust from Pad 39A in Florida and fly due east out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Launching a remarkably lightweight payload of just 3,700 kg, the Falcon Heavy – at a glance – seems wildly overpowered for launching a mission of this class into orbit.
However, part of the flight requires the second stage to re-ignite three times to radically alter the vehicle’s orbit ...