Update: SpaceX is now planning to launch the first Falcon. heavy rocket of 2023 on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 5:56 pm EST (2256 GMT).
The powerful SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will be back in action on Sunday (Jan. 15), and you can take it for a ride.
A Falcon Heavy was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on Sunday at 5:56 pm EST (2255 GMT), the day after it was previously announced, on a classified mission called Space Force USSF-67.
Watch live here on Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly through the company. We will host bike groups when the time comes.
Related: Why SpaceX hasn’t flown the Falcon Heavy rocket since 2019
Sunday’s launch will be fifth overall for the Heavy Falcons. Rockets were discussed 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 space mannequin named Starman in the driver’s seat.
Falcon Heavy launched again in April 2019 and June 2019, with satellites being launched each day. But the rocket didn’t launch again until November of last year on a USSF-44 mission to the Space Force. The 40-month gap was mainly due to delays in receiving ready payments, according to space industry analysts.
Like USSF-44, USSF-67 is assigned a mission. We know a little about forgiveness or forgiveness.
The main payload is a military communications satellite called Continuous Launch Augmenting SATCOM 2, which Falcon Heavy will send to a geostationary orbit about 22,200 miles (35,700 kilometers) above Earth. Also flying to Saturn is a spacecraft called the Long Duration Propulsion ESPA (LDPE)-3A, a payload adapter that can hold up to six small satellites, according to EverydayAstronaut.com (Opens in a new tab).
The LDPE-3A will carry five Space Force payloads on USSF-67. Among them are “two operational prototypes for enhanced situational awareness and a prototype of a crypto/encryption interface to provide the ability to provide a safe space for space communication,” Numen Space officials said in an emailed statement on Friday (Jan. 13).
The Falcon Heavy consists of three modified stages of the first SpaceX Falcon 9 that flew together. The central course is topped with a payload-carrying upper level.
The Falcon Heavy first stages are reusable, just like those of the Falcon 9. Two side runners for USSF-67 will be deployed for the second time; also flew in USSF-44, Space Force officials said. USSF-67 had not flown the core course before.
If all goes according to plan, the two side boosters will return to Earth shortly after liftoff on Saturday, making a vertical touchdown at the Cape Canaveral Space Station, which is the next door to KSC. The central car will not return, but the ditch into the Atlantic Ocean.
USSF-67 marks a busy week for SpaceX. The company also plans to launch 51 of its Starlink internet satellites into low-Earth orbit above the Falcon 9 in Ja. 19. You can also view this mission here at Space.com.
Mike Wall is the author of “There you go (Opens in a new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (Opens in a new tab) or * Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
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