Fifth Falcon Heavy flight launched the USSF-67 into geostationary orbit
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket №5 was launched from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, January 15, 2023, at 5:56 pm, EST (22h56 UTC). Approximately eight minutes after takeoff, side thrusters B1064 and B1065, which were used for the second time, made a controlled vertical landing on the LZ-1 and LZ-2 platforms at the launch site ( o ‘ core ’ central B1070 was disintegrated in the ocean after the propulsion phase, since it was disposable . As part of the mission, a military communications satellite CBAS-2 ( Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM 2 ) will be placed in geostationary orbit.
The two side boosters fired for two and a half minutes before falling and flying back to synchronized side-by-side landings at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Announced as usual by sonic crashes, the thrusters flew for the first time on a Falcon Heavy last November and both will be used again on an upcoming mission.
The center ‘ core ’ B1070 worked for another minute and a half before also falling, leaving the rest of the climb to the second stage . Unlike the side propellants, the plant used all of its propellant as planned to complete the rise of the lower atmosphere and its recovery was not possible.
The Falcon Heavy headed east of the Kennedy Space Center to begin the approximately six-hour ascent to geosynchronous orbit, where the rocket would release its tandem charges, one at a time, more than 36,000 kilometers over the equator, after entering an initial orbit of 300 km x 35,800 km. Stage 2 will rise through Van Allen radiation belts to reach the target orbital injection altitude of the mission where it will complete its third and last engine trip before the load is separated useful. The upper stage motor will complete the task of maneuvering in geosynchronous orbit. The stage is expected to start its engine three times, with a stop of approximately six hours between the second and third ignition. As usual in military launches, the details were not disclosed.
According to official data from the United States Space Systems Command, CBAS-2 ( Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM – Continuous Transmission Increase communications satellite, manufactured by Boeing ) will expand satellite communications capabilities among the country's main leaders and combat commands. Specific data about the spacecraft and its orbit are strictly classified. Meanwhile, according to American experts, its mass reaches three tons. The satellite must be placed in orbit with geostationary at 35,000 km. This is the second of its kind for the US Space Force. The first is the CBAS-1, launched in orbit in April 2018 using the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V launch vehicle. The CBAS satellite has a takeoff mass of around 2,000 to 3,000 kg.
As a secondary cargo, the rocket also put an LDPE-3A vehicle into orbit, designed to carry out experiments in space in the interest of the Pentagon. It is a platform for six minisatellites whose missions have not been described in detail, in addition to including operational prototypes for “ improved situational awareness ” and encryption technology for space-to-ground communications. Two other charges are presumably going to test space climate sensors and possibly test equipment to monitor other satellites. This mission includes two SSC-type loads: the Catcher and WASSAT, and three loads developed by the Space Rapid Capabilities Office ( SRCO ).SRCO charges include two operational prototypes for greater situational awareness and an operational prototype encryption / encryption interface that offers secure space-to-ground communication capabilities.