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Satnews Daily
May 13th, 2019

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Launch Vehicle Readies to Perform 'Firsts' for DoD/NASA/NOAA Mission 

The upcoming Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission, carrying 24 payloads aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, is scheduled to liftoff from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on June 22, 2019.

The STP-2 mission is led by Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base (LAFB) in El Segundo, California, in partnership with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. 

STP-2 will mark the first-ever DOD launch using a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, as well as the first-ever DOD mission with re-used rocket flight hardware. SpaceX plans to reuse the two Falcon Heavy side boosters recently flown on the successful Arabsat-6A mission.

This is among the most challenging launches in SpaceX history, with four separate upper-stage engine burns, three separate deployment orbits, and a final propulsive passivation maneuver during a total mission duration of over six hours.

The DoD’s Space Test Program and the Rocket Systems Launch Program, under Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center, are managing the mission.

STP-2 will provide space access for a broad range of science and technology experiments and demonstrations from DOD and national laboratories, universities, international partners, NASA and NOAA.  These spacecraft will provide valuable data to improve weather forecasting, space environmental monitoring, propulsion, communications, and many other advanced space technologies. 

The STP-2 mission will also provide the U.S. Air Force with insight into the SpaceX booster recovery and refurbishment process, enabling future National Security Space Launch missions on SpaceX launch vehicles using previously flown boosters.