SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy rocket with 24 satellites

Pablo Tucker
June 25, 2019

During tonight's launch - assuming it proceeds during its scheduled launch window - the human remains will be released into orbit aboard one of two dozen satellites the Falcon Heavy is hauling. It's the first time the DoD is launching on a Falcon Heavy and it will be the rocket's first nighttime launch.

SpaceX is set to carry two dozen satellites into space Monday night aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket and spread them across the sky in a marathon mission that Chief Executive Elon Musk has described as the company's "most hard launch ever".

This launch is the first time that the rocket will re-use boosters. SpaceX routinely lands the boosters for reuse, lowering the cost of launches. The core booster of that rocket successfully landed as well, but it was lost when the boat encountered choppy seas on the way back to shore.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk had called it the most challenging launch ever for SpaceX.

Today's launch kicked off a particularly complicated flight, as the satellites onboard needed to be injected into three distinct orbits.

In addition to the cremated remains, the OTB satellite, developed by General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems and also hosts NASA's Deep Space Atomic Clock. NASA also was testing a clean and green alternative to toxic rocket and satellite fuel.

"Solar sailing is a game-changer", Bill Nye, executive director of the Planetary Society, explained in a video preview of the mission.

The Air Force Research Laboratory had space weather experiments aboard, while NOAA had six small atmospheric experimental satellites for weather forecasting.

An eclectic mix of payloads was packed into the Falcon Heavy's fairing. Viewing from the main complex is included with Kennedy Space Center admission. SpaceX representatives had repeatedly stressed that its touchdown would be the most hard of the dozens that Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy first stages have attempted over the past few years, because today's mission required higher-than-normal speeds.

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