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  • Satellite Evolution

Space Force preparing SpaceX Falcon Heavy for National Security Launch

Space Systems Command and SpaceX are preparing US Space Force (USSF)-44, the first National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Falcon Heavy for launch later this month. This will be the fourth Falcon Heavy since debut of the vehicle, and the first Falcon Heavy to launch since June 2019; that mission released 24 experimental satellites into orbit for the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program, and provided a wealth of insight into the rocket, aiding the team as they prepared for this launch.

USSF-44 will also place multiple satellites in orbit, this time for the Space Systems Command’s Innovation and Prototyping Delta.

“We’re getting close to launch day, and we’re totally pumped! This will be our first NSSL Falcon Heavy, and the first Falcon Heavy since STP-2 over three years ago,” said Col. Douglas Pentecost, SSC’s Deputy Program Executive Officer for Assured Access to Space. “Our launch and mission assurance team and SpaceX, along with the fantastic crew at Space Launch Delta 45, have done an absolutely superb job preparing this rocket. We put important national capabilities into space to address the threat, and working together we ensure one hundred percent mission success.”

As with previous Falcon Heavy launches, SpaceX plans to recover the side boosters, which they will refurbish for a subsequent Space Force launch later this year. Because of the fuel consumption needed for the demanding mission profile, SpaceX won’t attempt recovery of the center core. USSF-44 will lift off from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-39A at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Space Systems Command is the US Space Force field command responsible for rapidly developing, acquiring, equipping, fielding and sustaining lethal and resilient space capabilities. SSC mission capability areas include launch acquisition and operations, communications and positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT), space sensing, battle management command, control, and communications (BMC3), and space domain awareness & combat power. SSC is headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif.


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