According to NASASpaceflight.com, SpaceX is only about 48 hours away from the critical static fire test of Falcon Heavy Flight 3, in which all 27 Merlin 1D engines on the rocket will be lit for a short while.
If the routine test is as planned, the third finished Falcon Heavy of SpaceX will be ready to be exported at 23:30 ET (03:30 UTC), June 24th. At the top of the massive rocket will be the US Air Force Space Testing (STP-2) – a collection of 24 small satellites from various US state agencies and academic institutions. In fact, STP is often an engineering excuse for marketing, including satellites and customers who are willing to take a higher risk of more valuable payloads, which makes it easier for US military to certify new technologies and new commercial missiles ̵
As previously discussed in Teslarati, STP-2 is an extremely ambitious mission that aims at simultaneously certifying or paving the way for critical competence certification. First and foremost, it will (without serious anomalies) give the US military data needed to certify the SpaceX Hewitt of SpaceX for all launches of national defense, giving ULA Delta the first real ULA competition for a decade and half.
Included under the umbrella of this catch certification is some sort of validation of torture tests on the long coastal capabilities of the top of SpaceX's Falcon. For the successful completion of the STP-2, the upper stage will be subjected to "four separate engine burners of the higher degree, three separate orbits, the last passive maneuver and a total mission duration of more than six hours." [19459011Theprobable-InordertocompletetheSTP-2thetopoftheFalconHeavy-essentiallythesamethatfliestoFalcon9-willbesubjectedtoitsmostchallengingprofile(SpaceX)
Finally, the US Air Force has decided that the STP-2 represents an excellent opportunity to launch a certification process for proven SpaceX missile launches for military launches. STP-2 work is more of a preliminary work for the USAF to find out how
Finally, the US Air Force has decided that the STP-2 represents an excellent opportunity to launch a certification process for proven SpaceX missile launches for military launches. STP-2 work is more of a preliminary work for the USAF to find out howhas certified commercially proven commercial missiles, but it will still be the first time a special US military mission has flown to a tested flight rocket vehicle. Further down the road, the processes established, in part, by STP-2 and Falcon Heavy can also be used for asymptotic missiles such as Blue Glenn and the "SMART" ULA concept for Vulcan re-use.
Still, New Glen is unlikely to be ready for flights proven by the mid-2020s, while ULA has no plans to even attempt to re-use the Vulcan until 2026, that military certification is probably not going to come until 2028-2030 at the earliest. SpaceX has thus gained nearly half a decade, where it will be the only viable US supplier to offer certified hardware with proven reliability. Although the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) was alone on board SpaceX in February 2019, the launch of PSN-6 and Spaceflight's GTO-1 mission STP-2 will be the first time a special mission of the Department of Defense has landed on a proven hardware flight of the car since 1992 (STS-53).
In addition to the proven Falcon Heavy side boosters B1052 and B1053, the STP-2 is expected to use a new central hub B1057. SpaceX is in the late stages of vehicle integration and should be almost completed by Monday, June 17, to support the static fire on June 18th. The specific static fire window is not yet public, but Falcon Heavy is likely to roll to Pad 39A no less than 12 hours ago.