SpaceX and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) are targeting to launch SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle for the Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission no earlier than Monday, June 24 at 11:30 p.m. EDT.
A Falcon Heavy rocket will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with about two dozen satellites aboard, including four NASA missions.
The STP-2 mission is led by Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California in partnership with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The DOD’s Space Test Program and the Rocket Systems Launch Program, under the SMC, are managing the mission.
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. It 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.
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.
The four NASA missions onboard STP-2 are:
+ Deep Space Atomic Clock – a navigation payload hosted on General Atomics Orbital Test Bed satellite
+ Green Propellant Infusion Mission – a small satellite that will demonstrate a non-toxic fuel and propulsion system
+ Space Environment Testbeds – instruments hosted on the Air Force Research Lab’s Demonstration and Science Experiments spacecraft to study how to protect satellites in space
+ Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment – twin CubeSats to study disruptions of signals that pass-through Earth’s upper atmosphere