USSF-52 is a classified US Space Force mission carrying their next national security payload.
Falcon Heavy is designed and manufactured by SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. It is derived from the Falcon 9 vehicle and consists of a strengthened Falcon 9 first stage as a central core with two additional first stages as strap-on boosters.
Total launches: 5
Total landings: 11
Total reflights: 6
Height: 70m / 229.6ft
Width: 12.2m / 39.9ft
Mass: 1,420,788kg / 3,125,735lb
Payload to LEO: 63,800 kg / 140,660 lb
Payload to GEO: 26,700 kg / 58,860 lb
Payload to Mars: 16,800 kg / 37,040 lb
SpaceX conducted Falcon Heavy's first launch on February 6th, 2018, at 3:45 PM EST. The rocket carried a Tesla Roadster belonging to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, with a dummy dubbed "Starman" in the driver's seat.
The second Falcon Heavy launch occurred on April 11th, 2019. This launch successfully launched the Arabsat-6A satellite and all three booster rockets successfully returned to Earth except but the center core subsequently fell over and was lost during transport due to heavy seas.
The third Falcon Heavy launch successfully occurred on June 25th, 2019. This mission successfully launched multiple payloads including USAF STP-2, a space memorial for Celestis, and Lightsail-2. The mission also supported the U.S. Air Force National Security Space Launch certification process for the Falcon Heavy. The side boosters were successfully recovered but the center core failed to land and was destroyed on impact with the Atlantic Ocean.
The fourth Falcon Heavy mission, USSF-44 for the U.S. Space Force, successfully launched on November 1st, 2022 from Kennedy Space Center.
Photo by SpaceX
NASA's historic Kennedy Space Center is located on Cape Canaveral, Florida, and has hosted decades of historic space missions since the early days of the Apollo program.
Today, Kennedy Space Center is a multi-user spaceport and hosts private companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, and others.
SpaceX leases Launch Complex 39A at NASA's flagship facility and uses the pad to launch its Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 rockets. The pad is also used to launch missions for the Commercial Crew Program for which SpaceX launches astronauts to the Space Station for NASA aboard their Crew Dragon capsule.
Launch Complex 39A was previously used by NASA to launch the Apollo 11 mission to land the first humans on the moon and Space Shuttle missions to assemble the International Space Station and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.
Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) is an 86-meter-wide circular landing pad at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and is one of two SpaceX booster landing pads at the Florida spaceport.
Built on former Launch Complex 13, LZ-1 was the site of SpaceX's first successful landing and recovery of a Falcon 9 on the ORBCOMM-2 mission in December 2015. Since then, it has hosted 16 landings.
The landing pad, as well as its twin, LZ-2 located a few dozen meters away, can support both single landings of a Falcon 9 or simultaneous landings of the two Falcon Heavy side boosters.
Photo by Jenny Hautmann for Supercluster
SpaceX will expend the center core of the Falcon Heavy rocket, and it will be dropped into the Atlantic Ocean.
After multiple failed attempts at recovering a Falcon Heavy center core on a droneship, SpaceX decided to expend the center cores and no longer try to recover them.