It’s the current frontrunner, although it hasn’t taken to the air in over three years. However, on Tuesday, March 6, SpaceX supporters will be able to watch the most powerful rocket in operation today lift off from Kennedy Space Center on a mission.
After announcing the completion of the Falcon Heavy static fire, SpaceX set November 1 as the launch date. The launch, which is scheduled for 9:40 a.m., has been added to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s lineup of public events.
By this Saturday, the weather squadron at Space Launch Delta 45 should have issued a warning to pilots and boaters to keep clear of the range, along with a three-day prediction.
On Thursday, Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy, commander of SLD 45, stated, “This launch concludes years of effort by a devoted team comprising of mission-focused professionals from across the U.S. Space Force and SpaceX.” We’re ready to launch with the Falcon Heavy, and it’s a key part of our entire lift capabilities.
The United States Strategic Forces (USSF) 44 mission will be the first of three flights planned for the Department of Defense on the Falcon Heavy, which is essentially three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together with 27 Merlin engines to produce 5.1 million pounds of thrust at liftoff and has the capability of delivering payloads to higher orbits.
Space Force authorities have announced that USSF-44 will be the first National Security Space Launch using Falcon Heavy, with further missions USSF-67 and USSF-52 contracted but no target launch date set. More than three years have passed since the last Falcon Heavy launch, which occurred in June 2019 and sent 24 experimental satellites into orbit as part of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program, paving the way for these missions for Space Force’s Space Systems Command.
Based out of Los Angeles Air Force Base in California, Space Systems Command is tasked with “rapidly developing, purchasing, equipping, fielding, and sustaining lethal and resilient space capabilities,” as stated in a press release from the Space Force. Launch acquisition and operations; communications and location, navigation, and timing; space sensing; battle management command, control, and communications; and space domain awareness and fighting power are all part of its purview.
Space Systems Command’s Innovation and Prototyping Delta’s top-secret payloads are referred to only as “many satellites.” Their final destination will be significantly higher in the sky than satellites like SpaceX’s Starlink broadband satellites, which are placed in low-Earth orbit.
Due to the increased fuel requirements of the launch profile, SpaceX will not make the typical effort to recover the center rocket. However, it will try to land the two side boosters at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station landing complex, which could result in a few of double sonic booms along the Space Coast.
Col. Douglas Pentecost, SSC’s Deputy Program Executive Officer for Assured Access to Space, remarked, “Our launch and mission assurance team and SpaceX, along with the wonderful workforce at Space Launch Delta 45, have done an absolutely superb job prepping this rocket.” Together, we deploy vital national capabilities into orbit to counteract the threat, and we guarantee a perfect record of mission success.
The first of just three successful launches for the Falcon Heavy was in 2018, when Elon Musk sent his Tesla roadster into an orbit that occasionally extends past Mars. It then carried a commercial payload into orbit in April 2019 to launch the Arabsat-6A satellite, then in June 2019 it carried out the Department of Defense mission known as Space Test Program-2.
For comparison’s sake, United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy produces about 3 million pounds of thrust during a launch, while the Saturn V rockets used in the Apollo program delivered about 7.6 million pounds of thrust.
If NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket launches next month as planned, it will deliver 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff and become the most powerful rocket to ever lift off from Earth. On or around November 14th, NASA hopes to launch the Space Launch System (SLS) on the Artemis I mission.
Additionally, SpaceX is working on a new rocket called Starship. It will be able to produce more than 16 million pounds of thrust using 33 Raptor engines, making it far more powerful than the Falcon Heavy, SLS, the shuttle, and the Saturn V. This may launch on its first orbital test mission from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in southeast Texas before the year is through.
However, as of right now, Launch Pad 39-A at KSC is where you’ll find the most powerful rocket in the world: the Falcon Heavy.