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Falcon Heavy Launches The USSF-67 Mission To A Geosynchronous Earth Orbit

A triple-core Falcon Heavy rocket is designed for the US Space Force, which will boost a military communications satellite into space. 

Falcon Heavy launches USSF-67 to orbit.

Falcon Heavy launches USSF-67 to orbit.

SpaceX’s most powerful rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 16 January 2023 (IST). A triple-core Falcon Heavy rocket is designed for the US Space Force, which will boost a military communications satellite into space.

The rocket was powered by 27 Merlin engines, generated over 5 million pounds of force during its flight. The primary satellite, Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM 2 (CBAS-2) was sent into geostationary orbit over 35,000 kilometres above Earth.

The powerful rocket is second most expensive after NASA’s Space Launch System moon rocket in lift-off power, provided a spectacular show for spectators. It climbed into the sun’s glare as the jet of flaming exhaust illuminated the sky.

The rocket’s plume lit up in glorious yellow and orange billows while creating a distant dark shadow slanting across the horizon.

According to a statement released by Space Systems Command, the rocket carried two satellites for the USSF 67 mission. One of these is a deployable satellite that can hold five demonstration payloads.

The LDPE modular structure, which features standard interfaces and a flexible design, can be used to carry various payloads across different mission areas.

“This was the second launch and landing of these Falcon Heavy side boosters, which previously supported USSF-44,” SpaceX, said in an update. The twin booster landed at Landing Zone-1, and 2 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, with the drone showing their iconic return to the pad.

The Flacon-Heavy is the most powerful rocket built by the company that is propelled by three modified first stages of the Falcon-9 rocket. The three boosters are strapped together with the central booster pushing the payload into the designated orbit around the planet.

World’s Most Powerful Operational Rockets

The Falcon-Heavy has conducted five launches and a total of 11 landings so far. As one of the world’s most powerful operational rockets, Falcon Heavy can lift nearly 64 metric tons to orbit. The rocket is powered by 27 Merlin engines that together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft.

This is the second National Security Space Launch for Falcon Heavy having sent up USSF-44 in November. The rocket had the capacity to send 141,000 pounds of payload to low-Earth orbit and nearly 60,000 pounds to the geosynchronous Earth orbit, which was the target of Sunday’s launch.

This payload for this flight included the second of the Space Force’s second Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM communications satellite, the first of which launched in 2018 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V. The satellites send military data through space-based relay links, according to the Space Force.

Falcon Heavy has no problem sending payloads off toward Mars as proven by its first ever flight in 2018 that sent up Elon Musk’s Tesla roadster into space acting as the test payload for the new rocket. SpaceX followed that up with a commercial payload in April 2019 and then a Department of Defense mission in June 2019 before more than a three-year drought between launches three and four.

Falcon Heavy will eventually make way for SpaceX’s in-development Starship and Super Heavy rocket, which could see its first orbital launch as early as February, Musk said this month.

SpaceX has four more Falcon Heavy missions on the books for 2023 including a third Space Force mission dubbed USSF-52 expected in the first half of 2023.