A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will take to the skies for the third time to launch the US Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission in late June, according to a release of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Several exciting, one-of-a-kind NASA technology and science payloads are among the two dozen spacecraft aboard.
The 27 engines of the Falcon Heavy rocket generate thrust at liftoff equal to that of approximately 18 airplanes, and it can lift over 140,000 pounds (about 63,503 kg), according to the JPL, Xinhua news agency reported.
Managed by the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, STP-2 is the first government-contracted Falcon Heavy launch.
It will reuse the two side boosters recovered after the April flight. SpaceX described it as one of the most challenging launches in the company’s history.
NASA will launch some pretty cool technologies in this mission, which will support its future exploration plans by helping improve future spacecraft design and performance, said the release.
According to the JPL, the technologies include the Deep Space Atomic Clock, a navigation payload hosted on the General Atomics Orbital Test Bed satellite; the Green Propellant Infusion Mission, a small satellite that will demonstrate a non-toxic fuel and propulsion system; Space Environment Testbeds, instruments hosted on the US Air Force Research Lab’s Demonstration and Science Experiments spacecraft to study how to protect satellites in space; and the Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment, twin CubeSats to study the disruptions of signals that pass through Earth’s upper atmosphere.