SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy launch for the U.S. Air Force will take a major step closer to liftoff with a hold-down engine firing at launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The static fire test is scheduled for no earlier than Wednesday, followed by liftoff with a cluster of experimental satellites and weather monitoring craft June 24.
SpaceX is gearing up for the first commercial launch of its powerful Falcon Heavy rocket as soon as early April with a communications satellite for Arabsat, and the U.S. Air Force hopes the two side boosters from the Arabsat mission can be safely landed and reused for the military’s first Falcon Heavy mission this summer, an exercise officials said will help certify previously-flown hardware for future national security launches.
Managers have pushed back the next flight of United Launch Alliance’s Delta 4-Heavy rocket from a launch pad in California until no sooner than early December, and the first launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy for the U.S. Air Force has likely been delayed to some time early next year, officials said this week.
There’s a lot on SpaceX’s agenda this year if the company can maintain its pace, including refinements of the Falcon 9 rocket to hasten refurbishment between flights and the debut of the long-delayed Falcon Heavy launch vehicle with two side boosters recycled from previous missions, Elon Musk said after last week’s successful liftoff of a previously-flown rocket.