SpaceX’s Is Launching Falcon HeavyOne on New Time 2:30

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SpaceX Falcon Heavy poised for dramatic night launch

SpaceX readied a triple-core Falcon Heavy rocket for the booster’s first nighttime launch overnight Monday in what promises to be a spectacular climb to space. The launch kicks off a complex $750 million mission to deploy 24 small science and technology testbed satellites into multiple orbits for the Pentagon, NASA and a variety of other agencies.

In so doing, the third flight of the Falcon Heavy, along with the attempted recovery of all three first stage core boosters — two back at Cape Canaveral and one on an off-shore droneship — will help certify the powerful rocket for launching expensive high-priority national security payloads, a major milestone for SpaceX.

Managed by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, the Space Test Program 2 — STP-2 — launch from historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, originally targeted for 11:30 p.m. EDT Monday, was reset for 2:30 a.m. Tuesday to allow time for “additional ground system checkouts.” Forecasters predicted an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX is waiting until late in its 4-hour window to fire the engines on the massive Falcon Heavy rocket currently sitting on a launch pad here at Kennedy Space Center.The company announced on Twitter that it would be targeting 2:30 a.m. EDT (0630 GMT) on June 25, three hours into the launch window for the mission. The statement didn’t offer any details about why the decision was made. The mission will launch two dozen satellites into orbit, including payloads for NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The Planetary Societyand a host of universities.”[T]eam completed additional ground system checkouts. Vehicle and payload continue to look good,” a company spokesperson wrote.

When it takes place, the launch will be the first night flight of the Falcon Heavy and the vehicle’s first launch to loft multiple satellites into orbit. It will be the rocket’s third flight overall, coming fast on the heels of the vehicle’s first commercial launch of a large communications satellite called Arabsat-6A, in April.

The new flight, an Air Force coordinated launch dubbed Space Test Program 2 or STP-2, will also be the first Falcon Heavy mission to reuse boosters that have already flown to space, as the two side boosters are veterans of that April flight. The center core is new, after the Arabsat mission’s center core landed safely but was lost overboard when choppy seas struck SpaceX’s droneship.

With the new targeted launch time, SpaceX has just an hour-long window in which to complete the launch. If the company decides it isn’t ready to go within that hour, it will default to a 4-hour backup window that opens June 25 at 11:30 p.m. EDT (0630 GMT) on June 26.

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