- Satellite Evolution
Space Force to launch USSF-67 on SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket
Space Systems Command (SSC) has announced that the next US Space Force mission is scheduled to lift off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A at 5:55 p.m. ET (22:55 UTC), with a backup opportunity on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 5:56 p.m. ET (22:56 UTC), using SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket.
The mission, formally titled USSF-67, will be the fifth SpaceX Falcon Heavy to date and the heavy-lift vehicle’s second National Security Space Launch (NSSL) mission. It is comprised of two co-manifested satellites used to transmit military communications data and transport payloads to space.
The forward spacecraft, SSC’s Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM (CBAS)-2, is a satellite destined for geosynchronous orbit to provide communications relay capabilities in support of our senior leaders and combatant commanders. The mission of CBAS-2 is to augment existing military satellite communication capabilities and continuously broadcast military data through space-based satellite relay links.
The second spacecraft, the Long Duration Propulsive ESPA (LDPE)-3A, is used to rapidly place multiple, diverse payloads into orbit and provide critical data to inform and influence future U.S. Space Force programs. This LDPE-3A mission includes two SSC payloads: catcher and WASSAT, and three payloads developed by the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (SRCO). The SRCO payloads include two operational prototypes for enhanced situational awareness, and an operational prototype crypto/interface encryption payload providing secure space-to-ground communications capability. The LDPE spacecraft will continue to provide access to space for multiple DoD space Science & Technology (S&T) demonstration experiments.
“This is a complex mission and truly represents what Assured Access to Space is about and is why we’re so enthusiastic about this upcoming launch…our second Falcon Heavy in just months,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy, program executive officer for Assured Access to Space. “The teamwork I’ve seen preparing for this launch has just been exceptional. We’ve worked side-by-side with SpaceX to ensure all boxes are checked…that all systems are GO. And our processes for getting to that ‘go’ decision at LRR are thorough and constantly evolve, so they’re also more efficient than ever.”
This Falcon Heavy launch will be the first for the NSSL program this year and the first SpaceX launch from the NSSL Phase 2 contract. NSSL Phase 2 contracts use commercial-like contracts and pricing, saving significant taxpayer dollars while providing stability to the industry base, contributing to more efficient buying practices as well as manifest flexibility that benefits government and commercial customers alike.
A prominent innovation developed by SpaceX and adopted by the US Space Force is booster reusability. The side boosters for USSF-67 were the same ones used for USSF-44, which launched from the Eastern Range on Nov. 1, 2022. The efficiencies garnered from reusability benefit all customers, adding flexibility to a dynamic launch queue and cost savings.
Space Systems Command is the US Space Force’s field command responsible for acquiring and delivering resilient war fighting capabilities to protect our nation’s strategic advantage in and from space. SSC manages an $11 billion space acquisition budget for the Department of Defense and works in partnership with joint forces, industry, government agencies, academic and allied organizations to accelerate innovation and outpace emerging threats. Our actions today are making the world a better space for tomorrow.