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SpaceX is gearing up for the next flight of the company's megarocket, the Falcon Heavy.
Essentially three Falcon 9 boosters strapped together, the behemoth will lift off from the historic Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, on Monday (June 24), and for the first time, it will do so at night.
Night - June - Hours - Delays - Rocket
Late last night (June 19), and after several hours of weather-related delays, the massive rocket roared to life, as smoke billowed from its engines during a preflight test. The brief ignition, known as a static-fire test, is one of the last major milestones in launch preparations, ensuring that all systems are working properly and that the rocket is ready to fly.
Just before 1 a.m. local time (0500 GMT), SpaceX tweeted that the test was a success and that the company was targeting a Monday evening launch.
Mission - STP-2 - Launch - Window - Pm
The upcoming mission, known as STP-2, will lift off sometime during a planned 4-hour launch window, which opens at 11:30 p.m. EDT (0330 GMT on June 25). Managed by the Air Force via its Space Test Program (STP for short), STP-2 is the next epic ride-share SpaceX plans to pull off.
Like in a cosmic Uber pool, two dozen satellites will ride to orbit nestled inside the Falcon Heavy's nose cone. This will mark the third flight for Falcon Heavy but the first to carry more than one satellite. SpaceX's flagship rocket, the Falcon 9, is a 5-star space taxi, having now ferried more than 60 satellites into orbit in a single launch.
Satellites - Payload - Rocket - Flight - Range
While 24 satellites is hardly the largest payload a Falcon-series rocket has taken to orbit, the upcoming flight will still be challenging because of the range of orbits the satellites need to reach. "This will be our most difficult launch ever," SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted prior to Wednesday's...
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