SpaceX set for third Falcon Heavy launch: here’s how to watch live
SpaceX is T-18 hours to its second Falcon Heavy launch in scarcely 70 days, set to lift off with the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) rideshare mission no earlier than (NET) 11:30 pm EDT (03:30 UTC), June 24th.
As indicated by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, STP-2 is without a doubt the company’s “most difficult launch ever”, attributable to a multitude of high-stakes performance necessities, US military and NASA oversight, a few specialized achievements, testing sponsor and fairing recuperations, and a whole lot more. Ought to SpaceX prevail on all fronts, the company will have taken a huge leap towards being able to offer competitive launch services that can fulfill all of the US government’s many different spaceflight needs.
According to older USAF documents (STP-2’s unique launch target was mid-2015), those numbers could really ascend as high as five separate upper-arrange Merlin Vacuum burns and a mission span of more than 7.5 hours. Given the very late choice to move Falcon Heavy’s middle center recovery from ~40 km seaward to in excess of 1240 km seaward, all things considered, five consumes and 7.5 hours will be nearer to the truth of STP-2. To put it plainly, the center core will move from a gentle recovery to what will probably be SpaceX’s hottest and hardest booster recovery ever to transfer as much margin as possible to STP-2’s upper stage.
Concerning that additional fiery reemergence, Falcon Heavy focus center B1057 – the second Block 5 center core built by SpaceX – is now expected to attempt a landing aboard drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) more than 1240 km (770 mi) off the coast of Florida, potentially smashing the current record of ~970 km (600 mi).
In the meantime, fairing recuperation vessel GO Ms. Tree (some time ago Mr. Steven; renamed because of progress in ownership) is steaming hard, heading somewhere in the range of 1400-1600 km into the Atlantic Ocean. Falcon Heavy STP-2 will be the vessel’s first attempted fairing catch since December 3rd, 2018, nearly seven months ago. It will likely crush the previous record for most distant fairing recovery attempt by 50% or more. Whether or not the vessel succeeds and catches its first Falcon fairing(s) ever, it’s exciting to see Ms. Tree (Mr. Steven) out and about for a fairing recovery after months of inactivity.
As always, SpaceX will host an official Falcon Heavy STP-2 livestream, beginning around T-15 minutes and likely lasting at least 1-2 hours as the rocket’s upper stage prepares for a ~7.5-hour orbital marathon.