SpaceX Has a Major Falcon Heavy Launch Tonight


Following the launch, the Falcon Heavy's central core stage and two side boosters are expected to return to our planet for a triple landing. During Falcon Heavy's second flight, SpaceX pulled off its first successful center core landing but the booster eventually toppled into the sea because the droneship lacked adequate clamps for the Heavy core.

The four hour launch window opens at 11:30 p.m. EDT tonight (June 24) and proceedings from Launch Complex 39A will be streamed live on both NASA TV and SpaceX's own YouTube channel (see below) with coverage beginning on the latter around 15 minutes before the targeted lift-off time. The rideshare mission, known as STP-2, carried 24 satellites into orbit for the Department of Defense, as well as NASA, universities and the Planetary Society. It marked the military's first ride on a recycled rocket.

Nasa signed up for a spot on the rocket, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Planetary Society and Celestis, which offers memorial flights into space. The core landed but they lost it to the rough seas.

SpaceX said this was not unexpected for the especially hard mission.

Among the satellites launched was a solar sail test satellite; a deep space Atomic Clock, and a new type of green propellant for NASA.

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An astronaut who flew on Nasa's first space station in the 1970s, Skylab's Bill Pogue, had a bit of his ashes on board, along with more than 150 other deceased people.

Company founder Elon Musk has characterized the mission as "our most hard launch ever".

Furthermore, the launch will also involve four separate upper-stage engine burns, according to the company, and will also mark the first time that the Falcon Heavy's side boosters will be reused. The final deployment will take place more than three and a half hours after the launch. NASA's Deep Space Atomic Clock is created to confirm that such technology has been miniaturized enough, without losing accuracy, that it can fly on future spacecraft.

The Planetary Society's LightSail crowd-funded spacecraft will attempt to become the first orbiting spacecraft to be propelled exclusively by sunlight.