The full SpaceX Falcon Heavy
with a payload fairing attached stands vertical at Launch Complex 39A at the
Kennedy Space Center in this wide angle view June 19, 2019 after horizontal
rollout and going vertical. Launch on the STP-2 mission for the U.S. Air Force
is slated for June 24, 2019 at 11:30 p.m. EDT. See 2 sooty side boosters recycled
from Arabsat 6A launch in April 2019. Credit: Ken
Kremer — SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM – 23 June 2019
CAPE CANAVERAL/MERRITT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, FL – The upcoming Falcon Heavy STP-2 mission
nighttime launch on June 24 by SpaceX for the U.S. Air Force is the “most
difficult launch ever” says SpaceX CEO and billionaire founder Elon Musk.
Liftoff of the Space Test Program-2
(STP-2) mission paid for by the Department
of Defense (DoD) and managed by the U.S Air Force Space
and Missile Systems Center (SMC) is now targeted for launch on June 24, 2019 at
11:30 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida –
following the good outcome of the hold down static fire test last Wednesday.
You can get a really good feel for the complexity by
watching this short video from SpaceX:
The triple stick Falcon Heavy will deliver 24 science, research,
technology development and military research satellites to space into 3 separate
orbits and inclinations as the second stage is 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
And on top of that the STP-2
mission will also feature a breathtaking attempt by SpaceX to recover all 3
booster cores by land and by sea.
The two side boosters will land back at the Cape 8 minutes
after launch and the center core will touchdown at sea on the OCISLY droneship.
|Twin side booster landings from Falcon Heavy 2 mission. Credit: Ken
STP-2 is the first ever Falcon Heavy mission for the DOD
that also includes four satellites for NASA and more for NOAA, a number of Universities, Industry and one for
the Planetary Society.
“STP-2 is the government’s first launch on a
SpaceX Falcon Heavy vehicle, and is one of the most challenging missions the
Space and Missile Systems Center has ever launched,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi,
director of the launch enterprise systems directorate at SMC at a prelaunch media
“We’re putting 24 research and development
satellites into three separate orbits, with a first-ever four engine start and
burn of the second stage.”
And its not cheap either!
This only 3rd ever launch of the
SpaceX Falcon Heavy generating 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust has an
estimated price tag of $750 million.
The 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust are
generated from the firing of 27 Merlin 1D 1st stage engines and are
the equivalent to what produced by eighteen 747 aircraft.
This mission is using every drop of the
performance of the Falcon Heavy to deploy the two dozen satellites. They fill
about 1/3 of the payload fairing.
The launch window opens Monday at 11:30 p.m. EDT June 24 and
extends four hours to 3:30 a.m. June 25.
In case of any delay the next launch opportunity is
Tuesday, June 25 with the same launch window.
The 24 satellites have a total payload mass of 3700 kg.
With the dispenser that rises to 5000 kg.
The 24 satellite payload and dispenser launching on SpaceX
Falcon Heavy STP-2 mission on June 24 from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy
Space Center. Credit: SpaceX/USAF
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,
four experiments to help will reveal the ways local space weather affects
green propulsion system could
take the small satellite revolution beyond what it is today, and
that interfere with GPS and communications signals.
sponsoring the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology Ionosphere &
Climate-2, or COSMIC-2 system– a
constellation of 6 satellites.
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-
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
Watch my commentary about the Falcon Heavy
launch at News 6 Orlando here:
Kremer/Space UpClose interviewed by CBS 6 Orlando TV News WKMG on June 19, 2019
about the Falcon Heavy STP-2 launch targeted for June 24. Credit: CBS 6
WKMG/Ken Kremer screenshot
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
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and 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