SpaceX prepares for its busiest Falcon Heavy rifle right now and now, thanks to the US Air Force, we know what the epic ride looks like.
When the next SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches from NASA's historic Pad 39B at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Monday (June 24th), the heavy-duty rocket will carry 24 different satellites to the Air Force Space Test mission. If you're wondering what two dozen satellites look like inside Falcon Heavy's nose, do not be surprised. On Tuesday (June 18th), the Air Force and Missile Systems Center of the Air Force, responsible for the STP-2 mission, showed how the 24 satellites are stacked in the payload rack.
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The mission of the STP-2 is scheduled to start during a four hour window that opens on Monday evening at 11:30 AM EDT (0330 GMT 25 GMT). This will be the third launch of Falcon Heavy for SpaceX, but the first one to carry more than one satellite at a time.
Falcon Heavy's first mission, February 2018, was a Tesla Roadster, owned by SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk and Storman, a mannequin dressed in an official SpaceX spacecraft.
A massive satellite, 14,241 kilograms (6,460 kilograms) Arabsat 6A, launched on the second Falcon Heavy on SpaceX on April 11 this year. The two first phase of the side booms used to launch the Arabsat 6A will be reused in the STP-2 mission, SpaceX said.
3700 kg Integrated payload (IPS) for # STP2 is complete! Take a look at the first #DoD Falcon Heavy Start! #SMC #SpaceStartsHere pic.twitter.com/sEUUDx5kswJun 18, 2019
The 24 missions of the STP-2 mission include a diverse group of spacecraft built by NASA, the US Military, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, student teams from universities. These include NASA's atomic clock, a "green" spaceship satellite and a LightSail 2 solar panel for the planetary society, among others.
"The STP-2 mission will be among the most challenging launches in SpaceX history with four separate engine burners, three separate orbits, the latest passive maneuver and a total mission duration of over six hours," SpaceX writes in a mission statement .
SpaceX added that the ability to carry multiple satellites at once, as well as the use of used boosters, are key milestones for the mission.
"The launch of the STP-2 Multi-Manifesto (rideshare) will demonstrate the capabilities of SpaceX Falcon Heavy and will provide important certification data for future NSSL launch missions." "In addition, SMC will use this mission as a tool to develop policies and procedures to ensure missions related to the reuse of carrier rocket amps."
SpaceX regularly re-uses the first-stage boosters of its smaller Falcon 9 missiles, such as its rough Dragon ships, which deliver the NASA cargo to the International Space Station. SpaceX is continually developing a reusable technology to reduce the cost of space flights.
Finally, while 24 satellites can look like a lot, SpaceX actually started at the same time with its Falcon 9 missiles. Last year, the company released 64 small satellites at the same time as part of the rideshare mission through mediation of the company Spaceflight. Just last month, SpaceX released the first 60 of its Starlink internet satellites to set the foundation for the constellation that aimed to recruit thousands of satellites.