CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - SpaceX has launched its heftiest rocket with 24 research satellites.
The middle-of-the-night rideshare features a deep space atomic clock, solar sail, clean and green rocket fuel, and even human ashes, including an astronaut’s.
The Falcon Heavy rocket blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Tuesday morning at 2:30. It was the third flight of a Falcon Heavy, but the first ordered up by the military.
According to NASA’s website, the SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is carrying nearly two dozen satellites to space for the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 mission. Among the payloads are NASA technologies designed to test the performance of non-toxic spacecraft fuel and an advanced atomic clock to improve how spacecraft navigate.
“The STP-2 mission will be among the most challenging launches in SpaceX history with four separate upper-stage engine burns, three separate deployment orbits, a final propulsive passivation maneuver and a total mission duration of over six hours. In addition, the U.S. Air Force plans to reuse side boosters from the Arabsat-6A Falcon Heavy launch, recovered after a return to launch site landing, making it the first reused Falcon Heavy ever flown for the U.S. Air Force,” SpaceX said of the mission on their website.
Both side boosters landed back at Cape Canaveral several minutes after liftoff, just as they did after launching in April. But the new core booster missed an ocean platform.
More on the launch can be seen here.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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