….on Sunday January 15th 2023 at 5:56 PM ET or 22:55 GMT from Cape Canaveral Florida!
SpaceX was forced to scrub the Saturday January 14th 2023 launch attempt of their mega lift rocket due to being over eight hours behind schedule once the payload was mated to the rocket and rolled out to the launch pad. It became impossible for them to meet the launch window opening at 5:55 PM ET and still complete all the pre-flight checks needed before a launch attempt could be made.
The launch weather conditions were greater than 90% go for launch with winds from the North at 9 MPH and less than 1% chance of rain for the 5:56 PM ET Liftoff today.
SpaceX Falcon Heavy is 229 feet tall and produces up to 5.1 million pounds of thrust making it the 2nd most powerful operational rocket after NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket at 8.8 million pounds of thrust. The three first stage Falcon 9 boosters strapped together had a double landing back at LZ-1 & LZ-2 for the two side boosters and the brand new center core B-1070-1 with second stage was expended due to mission orbital requirements. Both side boosters B-1064-2 and B-1065-2 made their second trip to space and were both used during the very foggy USSF-44 mission back on October 31st 2022 for the United States Space Force.
The mission is a semi classified with with two main military communication satellites for the U.S. Space Force one is CBAS-2 (Sea Bass) the 2nd continuous broadcast satellite augmenting SatCom. The other spacecraft LDPE-3A is built by Northrop Grumman and is a unique and improved adapter ring with five small military satellites which will stay attached to the ring and not be deployed individually. LDPE-3A stands for Long Duration Propulsive ESPA with one satellite called Catcher a prototype senor to provide local space domain awareness insights built by Aerospace Corp to diagnose weather events on spacecraft in orbit.
Another payload is WASSAT with four cameras to search and track other spacecraft, space debris in GSO orbit. The remaining three small military satellites attached to the ring are for space situational awareness and encrypted space to ground communications.
SpaceX has had to add a wide gray stripe of paint to the outside of the second stage to help protect the kerosene tanks from freezing during the long freezing coast missions required to achieve the proper classified GSO orbit.
It was a truly epic launch and congratulations to both the SpaceX team and United States Space Force for all the success in this important national security mission.
Article and Photos by Scott Schilke for spacenews.lu & space-news.es