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  • Satellite Evolution Group

Space Systems Command, SpaceX ready to launch next Falcon Heavy mission for US Space Force

Space Systems Command (SSC) and SpaceX are making final preparations to launch the US Space Force (USSF)-52 mission into orbit. The Falcon Heavy mission is set to launch during a ten-minute window that opens Dec. 10 at 8:14 p.m. Eastern (5:14 p.m. Pacific) from the historic Launch Complex (LC)-39A at NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

USSF-52 is carrying the seventh mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which is an experimental test program that demonstrates technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the US Space Force.

“We’re nearly complete with the pre-launch work for our next National Security Space launch, which is the third Falcon Heavy used to launch a national security payload,” said Brig. Gen. Kristin Panzenhagen, Program Executive Officer for Assured Access to Space and Commander, Space Launch Delta 45. “Our team has done amazing work to prepare for this critical launch, and we’re doing even more behind the scenes. We are honing our processes to make our launch capabilities even more responsive to national security needs. We are also making our spaceports more resilient to ensure that our ability to place capabilities into orbit never falters.”

This launch adds to an already notable year. The last NSSL Falcon Heavy launched in early January; that mission, USSF-67, was followed by a Falcon 9 launching a GPS satellite just 61 hours later, both from the Eastern Range and using the same Space Systems Command crew.

The Assured Access to Space team brought their A-game, working alongside SpaceX to accomplish both launches. Increased agility and resilience are more important than ever as the US Space Force looks ahead at a challenging and robust launch schedule. The ability to conduct launch operations at a faster tempo will be especially important for fielding numerous, proliferated constellations.

Space Systems Command is the US Space Force’s field command responsible for acquiring and delivering resilient capabilities and groundbreaking technologies to protect our nation’s strategic advantage in and from space. SSC manages a $15 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.

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