24 Science Satellites Streak to Orbit on Spectacular 1st SpaceX Falcon Heavy Night Launch: Photos

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying 24 satellites as part of the
Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission streaks to orbit from
Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Tuesday, June 25,
2019 at 2:30 a.m. EDT in this 10 minute long duration single frame image
. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Ken
Kremer —
SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM
– 25 June 2019


KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – 24
science satellites streaked to orbit during an absolutely spectacular middle of
the night liftoff this morning Tuesday, June 25, 2019, on the first night
launch of the 23 story tall triple stick SpaceX Falcon Heavy program that also featured the
first ever fairing catch by the special boat at sea and twin land landings of
the twin side boosters minutes later – on the most complex mission ever for SpaceX
says CEO Elon Musk.   



Following a nail biting three hour delay to
fix ground support equipment liftoff of the
Space Test Program-2 (STP-2)
mission
for the U.S. Air Force finally took flight at 2:30 a.m. EDT
June 25, 2019 from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

STP-2 was procured by the Department
of Defense (DoD) and managed by the
U.S Air Force
Space
and Missile Systems Center (SMC)
with NASA as a
partner. 



“This launch was a true partnership across
government and industry, and it marked an incredible first for the U.S. Air
Force Space and Missile Systems Center,” said Jim Reuter, associate
administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. 


“The NASA missions aboard the Falcon Heavy also
benefited from strong collaborations with industry, academia and other
government organizations.”



And what a wallop it was.


Shortly after ignition of all 27 Merlin 1D first
stage engines a blaze of fire spewed from the engines and literally that turned
night into day from one moment to the next. 



And the crackling roar of the engines
shuttered across the Cape delighting tens of thousands of spectators who
gathered from across the globe for the first ever night launch of the SpaceX Falcon
Heavy that evolved into a middle of the night launch due to the 18 minute
postponement that pushed the launch from 11:30 PM Monday evening to 2:30 AM EDT
Tuesday morning. 



Enjoy our gallery of Space UpClose imagery ringing
KSC and the launch pad.



Check back as the gallery grows. 
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying 24 satellites as part of the
Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission launches from
Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Tuesday, June 25,
2019 in this remore camera shot. The satellites include four NASA technology
and science payloads that will study non-toxic spacecraft fuel, deep space
navigation, “bubbles” in the electrically-charged layers of Earth’s
upper atmosphere, and radiation protection for satellites.
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
.
But the excitement didn’t end there with the thundering
off the pad. No. 

Approx 2 minutes and 30 seconds after liftoff
the twin side boosters separated as the center core continued firing and illuminated
the exhaust plume. 

As a result the night sky erupted with flashes
of colored light for a few brief and stunning seconds. See our photos.  

It looked like the birth of a supernova. But
it wasn’t – just the engine flames lighting up the rocket vapor trail and as
the side booster began their boost back burns.

Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Meanwhile the core stage and second stage separated
at 3 min and 31 seconds after launch.

Then the side boosters carried out their
entry and landing burns.

As the side booster engine firings slowed
their plummet to Earth they passed through the sound barrier just a few hundred
feet above ground and sent a multitude of bone rattlingly loud sonic booms
screaming across the Space Coast region and beyond. 

Houses and windows rattled as people were
awoken and babies started crying – locals told Space UpClose.

Only the center core did not succeed with a touchdown
at sea on the OCISLY droneship. It crashed into the ocean just beside the
droneship

This Falcon Heavy mission – only the 3rd
overall – was the first one to utilize recycled rockets. The side boosters were
recycled from the last Falcon Heavy launch in April 2019 on the Arabsat 6A mission.

Both side boosters safely touched down and landed
upright and intact back at the Cape at Landing Zones 1 and 2 or LZ-1 and LZ-2: eight
minutes and 41 seconds after liftoff.

Check out our streak shots both wide angle (lead
image) and up close – focused on the twin side landings below on Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station.

Dual side core boosters land back at Cape Canaveral after
launch of triple core SpaceX Falcon Heavy on June 25, 2019 in this long duration landing streak image
Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com


Dual side core boosters land back at Cape Canaveral after
launch of triple core SpaceX Falcon Heavy on June 25, 2019. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com




The mission was ordered by the U.S. Air Force
and is the “most difficult launch ever” for SpaceX says SpaceX CEO and
billionaire founder Elon Musk.



STP-2 is the first ever Falcon Heavy mission for the DOD and
includes science, research and military research and technology payloads for
the US Air Force as well as four satellites for NASA, six satellites for NOAA, also a number for Universities, Industry and
one for the Planetary Society and human ashes too.



The triple stick Falcon Heavy successfully deliver 24 science,
research, technology development and military research satellites to space into
3 separate orbits and inclinations as the second stage was fired for a record 4
separate times in another test scoping out the range of its capabilities. 



Furthermore the mission duration for the 4 second stage
engine firings to enable the 24 satellite deployments is a record breaking 6
hours.


A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying 24
satellites as part of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2)
mission launches from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in
Florida Tuesday, June 25, 2019.  The
satellites include four NASA technology and science payloads that will study
non-toxic spacecraft fuel, deep space navigation, “bubbles” in the
electrically-charged layers of Earth’s upper atmosphere, and radiation
protection for satellites.
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

All 24 satellites were successfully deployed and are in
communication, the Air Force
Space & Missile
Systems Center said. 

“Deployment
of 24 satellites aboard the Falcon Heavy was successful! Thank you &
congratulations to our partners on a successful mission!” tweeted the
Air Force Space & Missile Systems about 12 hours after liftoff.  

“All satellites are on orbit and have made
contact!” 

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying 24
satellites on the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission
launches from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
Tuesday, June 25, 2019. 
Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying 24 satellites as part of the
Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission launches from
Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Tuesday, June 25,
2019 in this remote camera shot. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The 24 satellites have a total payload mass of 3700 kg.
With the dispenser that rises to 5000 kg.

Included on the manifest are four NASA payloads
investigating technologies that will help improve future spacecraft design and
performance in space.

The NASA payloads aboard the
Space Test Program-2 flight
include:

-the Deep Space Atomic Clock for vastly improved
interplanetary navigation that could change how we navigate on the Moon, to
Mars and beyond,

-the Space Environment Testbeds (SET) involving
four experiments to help will reveal the ways local space weather affects
spacecraft hardware,

– the  Green Propellant Infusion Mission to a test cleaner and new much less toxic
green
propulsion system could
take the small satellite revolution beyond what it is today,
and

– the Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment involving six satellites to study irregularities in Earth’s upper atmosphere
that interfere with GPS and communications signals.

NOAA along with NASA, the USAF and others are
sponsoring the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology Ionosphere &
Climate-2, or
COSMIC-2 system– a
constellation of 6 satellites. They will orbit 322 miles above Earth with a
mass of 250 kg.



The Falcon Heavy first stage is comprised of
three Falcon 9 cores. The center core is new and plumbed differently from the twin
pair of side cores – which are recycled from the Arabsat 6A launch in mid-
April.

The Falcon Heavy measures 229.6 feet (70 m)
tall and 39.9 feet (12.6 m) wide with a mass of
3,125,735 lb
(1,420,788 kg).
Watch my commentary about the Falcon Heavy
launch at News 6 Orlando here:

Ken will be onsite at the Kennedy Space Center
for liive coverage of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy STP-2 launch.
Watch for Ken’s continuing
onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and
Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer
– email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the
KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about
space topics.
………….

Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
Ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Jun 24/25: Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville,
FL, evenings.  Learn more about the upcoming
/recent Falcon Heavy, NASA 2024 Moon landing
goal, SpaceX Starlink-1,
SpaceX Falcon 9/CRS-17
launch to ISS, SpaceX Demo-1 launch/test failure, SpaceX Beresheet
launch, NASA missions, ULA Atlas & Delta launches,
Northrop Grumman Antares, SpySats and more
Ken’s will display his photos for sale

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.