SpaceX's Falcon Heavy mission for US Air Force targets June launch
SpaceX fans still flying high from last week’s Falcon Heavy rocket launch may want to mark their calendars for June.
The US Air Force is targeting that month for its Space Test Program 2 mission, or STP-2, a spokeswoman for the Space and Missile Systems Center said in an email. The launch can take place before SpaceX’s more powerful rocket is certified by the military because the mission is considered experimental. Falcon Heavy will eventually have to complete the validation process to carry out national security launches.
STP-2 has a number of objectives, including demonstrating the new rocket’s capabilities and launching several satellites. It will likely be Falcon Heavy’s first launch for a paying customer. Three commercial satellite operators – Arabsat, Inmarsat and Viasat – have also signed on to fly with the 27-engine vehicle, according to Space Exploration Technologies Corp’s launch manifest.
SpaceX debuted the Falcon Heavy on February 6, as the rocket successfully took off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, carrying a Tesla Roadster as payload. Its flight poath should set it to an orbit between mars and Jupiter. The company run by Elon Musk is targeting about 30 total launches in 2018, the majority using its smaller Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.