Falcon Heavy is again on the ramp, turn on the music

After more than three years of waiting, the world's most powerful Rocket launched again

After three years of waiting, finally, the world saw the most powerful beast again on the ramp, ready to roar all of its twenty-seven Merlin engines.

The rocket was launched at 9:41 a.m. ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre (KSC) in Florida, carrying satellites to space for the US Space Force as part of the classified mission USSF-44.

A few minutes after the launch, we witnessed the traditional and spectacular double synchronized boosters landing. Instead, as planned, the central core concluded its journey in the ocean.

Photo credits: CNN business by  Jackie Wattles

The mission

USSF-44 is a classified mission for the United States Space Force, meaning we have almost no information about it. Falcon Heavy carried two satellites to space: the first one is TERRA-1, a microsat built by Millennium Space Systems, which will serve as a technology demonstrator in Geostationary Orbit (GEO). The second one is a deployer carrying six classified payloads.

Instead, we can extract some details from the mission profile: USSF-44 was the first direct transfer to GEO for SpaceX. In contrast, all the previous Falcon 9 / Heavy missions carrying payloads to that orbital region were placing the satellites into a GTO.

What does it mean? It means that Falcon Heavy’s second stage had to place the two satellites in their final operational orbit instead of demanding the final circularization burn to the payloads. This is why the central core was flown in expendable configuration, extracting all possible Delta Velocity it could give.

Falcon Heavy at the launch pad – Credits: SpaceX via Flickr


Falcon 9 configuration

The most powerful rocket inside the SpaceX family – and currently also in the world – is made up of three Falcon 9 cores strapped together whit a standard F9 second on top. 

For this mission, all three cores were brand new, although only the two side boosters – B1064 & B1065 – were fitted whit the full reentry and landing suite of hardware (grid fins, landing lags, and ADCS) to land on LZ1 and LZ2 at KSC.

B1064 & B1065 landing at KSC – Credits: SpaceX via Twitter

Record and Future Flights

As usually happens with SpaceX missions, USSF-44 set new records for the company. Specifically, it was the 50th mission of the year and the 150th & 151st recovery of a booster.

Hopefully, this time we won’t have to wait three years to see another Falcon Heavy launch. The same side booster flown during the mission should support another launch for the Space Force later this year.


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Federico Coppola

Federico Coppola

Graduated in history from Federico II University in Naples, passionate about space, writing, and with an incurable dream of flying up through the clouds to reach the stars.
Admin of the Instagram page Italian_space_meme

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