SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch to Mark Several Firsts

The DSX experiment is part of the Falcon Heavy's STP-2 payload. Image Credit SpaceX

It will be the third launch for the Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in use today. The rocket will convey a few payloads for NASA and the Air Force.

The launch window opens at 11:30 p.m. on Monday. Forecasters predicted an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather. During the April launch, SpaceX recovered all three rockets.

Noon - NASA prelaunch technology TV show from Kennedy.

CEO of SpaceX Elon Musk said that the mission was "the most hard start of the company". The mission will also involve four second-stage engine burns to take the satellites to their destinations. For the last 20 years, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been developing a deep space atomic clock to utilize this technology for space exploration. Today's launch is expected to move the rocket closer to spaceflight-worthiness for the Air Force Space Command launch dubbed AFSPC-44 in the fall of 2020.

The Air Force announced that it had selected the Falcon Heavy to launch its Air Force Space Command-52 (AFSPC-52) satellite.

The supporters will return for an arrival at Cape Canaveral and ought to be obvious for miles around as they touch down.

"It's really a romantic notion that has tremendous practical applications", said Bill "The Science Guy" Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society.

On July 2, NASA will conduct its Ascent Abort-2 mission, the third of five launches required for certification of the Orion spacecraft meant to carry people to the moon and later to Mars. That will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, with five solid boosters.

For this SpaceX's STP-2 mission, Celestis purchased room aboard the Orbital Test Bed satellite.

The central core booster, making its first flight, will fire longer than its two sidekicks and will not have enough left-over propellant to make it back to Florida. It is more precise than the finest watch on earth and could be responsible for changing the way we travel through space. "I really appreciate the efforts of our industry partner (SpaceX) to make this happen". The boosters were refueled and refitted for the upcoming launch. That's because of the range of orbits the satellites need to reach. Built by students at the Michigan Technological University, Oculus will serve as a target to test techniques for studying satellites from the ground.

The SmallSat launching this week will test the new "green" propellant, which will provide a safer alternative to toxic chemical propellants now used, and which, in turn, could mean longer duration missions for spacecraft in deep space.

Monday night's launch will take place at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A.

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