SpaceX is switching up for its busiest Falcon Heavy Megarocket launch so far and thanks to the US Air Force we know what the epic rideshare looks like.
When the next SpaceX Falcon Heavy is launched Monday, June 24, from NASA's historic Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the heavy rocket will carry 24 different satellites for the Air Force Space Test Program-2 mission. If you are wondering which two dozen satellites look like in a Falcon Heavy nose cone, no more wonder.
In a Twitter post Tuesday (June 18), the Air Force Space & Missile Systems Center responsible for the STP-2 mission showed how the 24 satellites were stacked inside the payload.
"The 3,700 kg [8,1
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The STP-2 mission is scheduled to start once during a four-hour window that opens Monday evening at 11am: 30 EDT (0330 June 25 GMT). It will be the third Falcon Heavy launch for SpaceX, but the first to carry more than one satellite at a time.
The first Falcon Heavy mission, a test flight in February 2018, carried a Tesla roadster owned by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Starman, a mannequin dressed in an official SpaceX space color. (Roadster and Starman are still out in deep space.)
A single massive satellite, Arabic 14,141 pounds (6,460 kilograms) Arabsat 6A was launched on Space's second Falcon Heavy on April 11 this year. The two first-stage sidestampers used to launch Arabsat 6A will be reused on the STP-2 mission, SpaceX has said.
The 3700 kg Integrated Payload Stack (IPS) for # STP2 has been completed! Look before it blows out on the first #DoD Falcon Heavy Jacket! #SMC #SpaceStartsHere pic.twitter.com/sEUUDx5kswJune 18, 2019
The 24 satellites of the STP-2 mission consist of a diverse group of spacecraft built by NASA, the US military, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , student team from university. They include a NASA atomic clock, a satellite for testing "green" spacecraft drivers, and the LightSail 2 sun seal for, among others, planetary society.
"The STP-2 mission will be among the most challenging launches in the SpaceX story with four separate upper-stage engine burns, three separate trigger paths, one last propulsive passivation maneuver and a total mission time of over six hours," wrote SpaceX in a assignment description.
SpaceX added that the ability to carry many satellites simultaneously, and launch with used boosters, are important milestones for the mission.
"The launch of STP-2 with multiple manifestations (rideshare) will demonstrate the features of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle and provide critical data that supports certification for future security missions for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL)," said SpaceX officials. In addition, SMC will use this mission as a searcher for the development of commission insurance policies and procedures for re-use of launch vehicles. "
SpaceX regularly recreates first-time amplifiers of its smaller Falcon 9 rockets, as well as its unrestricted Dragon cargo ship delivering NASA cargo. International Space Station SpaceX has continuously developed reusable rocket technology to lower the cost of spaceflight
Finally, while 24 satellites can work as much, SpaceX has actually launched more simultaneously on their Falcon 9 rockets, last year, the company launched 64 small satellites while part of a rideshar e-assignment measured by the company Spaceflight.
Just last month, SpaceX launched the first 60 of its Starlink satellites to lay the foundation for a constellation designed to count on thousands of satellites.