For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
TITUSVILLE/PLAYALINDA BEACH, FL – SpaceX conducted a successful nighttime static fire test of their brand new triple stick Falcon Heavy rocket standing vertical and minus the nose cone on the launch pad, Thursday evening, Oct. 27, rumbling across the Space Coast and paving the path towards the first launch of the mammoth vehicle in over three years from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida – in this case next week on a classified mission for the United States Space Force.
After SpaceX engineers fueled the Falcon Heavy with RP-1 and liquid oxygen propellants they ignited all 27 first stage Merlin 1D engines on all three Falcon 9 cores at 8 PM EDT Thursday (0000 GMT Friday )– thereby generating 5.1 million pounds of thrust while hold down clamps kept the rocket firmly on top of the pad at Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The Falcon Heavy was tested in the ‘headless’ configuration of the first and second stages – meaning there was no nose cone or payload on top to keep the multi-billion dollar collection of U.S. Space Force satellites codenamed USSF-44 safe in case something went awry during the engine firing.
The Space Force’s upcoming USSF-44 launch of multiple satellites into geosynchronous orbit and some 22,000 miles above the equator marks the first national security mission on a Falcon Heavy and is certain to be critically important for U.S. national defense.
It is “a significant achievement for its commercial and government mission partners. The USSF-44 mission combines innovations for the launch and space vehicles, making this a truly unique and important,” said the Space Force.
The hold down static fire test lasted nearly 10 seconds and generated a huge exhaust plume that was visible plus a very load window shaking roar audible from our vantage point about a dozen miles distant in Titusville along the Indian River Lagoon.
SpaceX confirmed a successful engine test firing via tweet about an hour later and announced they are targeting Tuesday, Nov. 1 for the liftoff of the USSF-44 national security mission at 9:41 a.m. EDT (1341 GMT) from pad 39A.
Static fire of Falcon Heavy complete; targeting Tuesday, November 1 for launch of the USSF-44 mission from Launch Complex 39A in Florida
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 28, 2022
The launch window runs half an hour to 10:11 a.m. ET on Nov. 1.
That’s one day later than the prior target of Halloween morning Oct. 31
The mission has been delayed a day since the static fire was delayed a day
Enjoy our nighttime static test fire photos and Playalinda Beach photos of the headless SpaceX Falcon Heavy on the USSF-44 mission taken for Space UpClose by Ken Kremer and Jean Wright.
The Falcon Heavy is currently the most powerful operational rocket in the world
It was launched only 3 times previously since its debut test flight mission in 2018 with a Tesla Roadster car from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
The USSF-44 mission for the United States Space Force counts as the fourth Falcon Heavy mission.
Multiple satellites will be carried to orbit by the brand new Falcon Heavy featuring 3 new booster cores
The center core will be expended since the Space Force needs to use all the thrust available from the rocket.
“Because of the fuel consumption needed for the demanding mission profile, SpaceX won’t attempt recovery of the center core.”
The two side cores will return to the space coast for near simultaneous and very exciting touchdowns at LZ-1 & LZ-2 some eight minutes after liftoff – sending screaming sonic booms across the region.
The most recent Falcon Heavy launch on the STP-2 mission for the Space Force took place over three years ago in June 2019 following the second in April 2019.
“The STP-2 mission released 24 experimental satellites into orbit for the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program, and provided a wealth of insight into the rocket, aiding the team as they prepared for this launch.”
The gap in Falcon Heavy Launches was created in launch part due to delays with the payloads it was to loft
The USSF-44 mission for example was delayed by two years because of issues with the satellites
NASA’s Psyche mission set to launch this past summer was also delayed due to problems with the asteroid exploring satellite.
The Falcon Heavy will soon be exceeded in thrust by NASA’s SLS and SpaceX’s Starship heavy lifters
The rocket will now be lowered horizontal and rolled back into the processing hangar at pad 39A where the nose cone holding the Space Force payloads will be attached and integrated with the rest of the Falcon Heavy rocket.
Thereafter the full Falcon Heavy stack will be rolled back out to pad 39A and be raised vertical for liftoff on Nov. 1.
The fully integrated Falcon Heavy stands 229 feet (70 meters) tall and 40 feet (12.2 meters) wide.
“This launch culminates years of effort by a dedicated team comprised of mission-focused people from across the U.S. Space Force and SpaceX. The Falcon Heavy is an important element of our overall lift capability, and we’re very excited to be ready for launch,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy, Program Executive Officer for Assured Access to Space, in a statement.
“Every national security launch brings important capabilities to the nation, and investments in space capabilities increase the effectiveness of operations in every other domain–the U.S. military is better connected, more informed, faster, and precise because of Space. Along with our partners, we make that happen efficiently, more affordably than ever before, and of course, very reliably.”
Among the payloads are “The Long Duration Propulsive EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (LDPE ESPA)-2 and Shepherd Demonstration will carry a variety of payloads that will promote and accelerate the advancement of space technology for the benefit of future Programs of Record.”
Watch Ken’s commentary about Falcon Heavy Crew-5 and Project Artemis, NASA SLS WDR demo test, NASA SpaceX Crew & Cargo Dragons and more
Oct 27: WFTV ABC News and Fox 35 Orlando featured my commentary about Falcon Heavy and the Space Force national security payloads
Oct 12: WFTV ABC News Orlando featured my commentary about NASA setting new launch date for Artemis 1 in mid-November and Dennis Tito, the 1st space tourist, plans to fly around the moon on a commercial SpaceX reusable Starship mission in a few years
Link to commentary about Dennis Tito mission:
Oct 5: Two Fox 35 interviews –
Live prelaunch interview on Fox 35 Orlando about NASA Crew-5 launch: ‘Whats’ the purpose of the Crew-5 mission”
Post-launch interview with Fox 35 Orlando about successful Crew-5 blastoff to ISS on Oct 5
Oct 3: Interview with Fox 35 Orlando previewing the Crew-5 mission
Sep 27: Live interview on Fox 35 Orlando about why NASA rolled the Artemis1 moon rocket stack off pad 39B and back into the VAB as a safe haven from threat of Hurricane Ian approaching central FL and Space Coast and the launch date impact
Sep 26/27: Watch my interview comments at WFTV ABC News and Fox 35 Orlando about why NASA has decided to roll $4 Billion Artemis1 moon rocket back to VAB protective processing hangar from pad 39B due to Hurricane Ian approaching and the launch date impact
Sep 25: Update on Artemis 1 launch with my live half hour interview on WKMG CBS 6 Orlando with news anchor Justin Warmoth on ‘The Weekly’: “Artemis I: Explaining NASA’s latest repairs and the mission’s greater significance”
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Artemis, SpaceX missions, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, SpaceX Axiom-1, JWST, IXPE, DART, Lucy Asteroid mission, GOES, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3 & 4, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
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
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Upcoming and recent space events and talks by Ken Kremer & Jean Wright
Oct 30/31, Nov 1 from 7 to 9 PM Quality Inn, Titusville, FL: Join Ken and Jean for Artemis 1, Falcon Heavy and space mission and rocket launch outreach. Ask us anything. plus display our photos and space apparel items for sale