Addition of Third Mission
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two US Space Force missions using Falcon Heavy rockets that were supposed to launch in 2021 have been pushed back to next year. A third US National Security launch has been added to the Falcon Heavy‘s already-hectic 2022 schedule.
USSF-67, a $332 million secret national security mission to geostationary Earth orbit, is “on schedule for a mid-to-late 2022 launch,” according to SpaceX. A representative for the US Space Systems Command confirmed the news on October 30. Although SpaceX will be able to retrieve the two side boosters, the mission will be launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket with an expendable central core.
Impact of 3rd mission; the Projections
The inclusion of a third national security mission to Falcon Heavy will put a strain on SpaceX’s three-core rocket’s schedule. A Viasat-3 commercial broadband satellite and an Astranis communications satellite are expected to launch on this rocket in 2022. A secondary payload, as well as NASA’s Psyche planetary scientific project, will be launched.
The USSF-44 and USSF-52 Space Force missions were both supposed to launch in 2021 but were postponed due to payload readiness and range scheduling concerns. Although the Space Force stated that the launch would take place in 2022, no specific dates have been set. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center launches Falcon Heavy rockets.
Missions for Falcon Heavy
USSF-44 would be SpaceX’s first mission to attempt a double drone-ship landing and Falcon Heavy’s first national security direct-inject mission to geostationary orbit. The TETRA-1 tiny satellite, built by Millennium Space Systems, is the only payload known to have flown aboard USSF-44. The payloads for USSF-52 and USSF-67 have not been revealed by the Space Force.
The next flight of Falcon Heavy will be the vehicle’s first since June 2019, when it launched two dozen tiny satellites. This was for the United States Air Force’s STP-2 demonstration mission. April 2019 witnessed the launch of the Arabsat-6A communications satellite for Falcon Heavy, and in February 2018, Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster was launched.