A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket successfully launched from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on June 25, 2019, at 2:30 a.m. EDT for the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission. Twenty four satellites were on board, including four NASA payloads:
- Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment (E-TBEx) – twin cube satellites (CubeSats) that will measure the disruption of radio signals from natural-forming bubbles in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Understanding these disruptions and how to overcome them ultimately will improve the reliability of radio and GPS signals, which we rely on so heavily.
- Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) – a technology demonstration that aims to change the way we navigate our spacecraft by making the spacecraft more autonomous.
- Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) – a “green” alternative to hydrazine, a highly toxic propellant currently used. If successful, this low-toxicity fuel and compatible propulsion system could replace hydrazine in future spacecraft and ease handling concerns on Earth.
- Space Environment Testbeds (SET) – studies how to protect satellites in space by characterizing the harsh space environment near Earth and how that affects the spacecraft and its instruments. Understanding this can be used to improve design and engineering in order to further protect the spacecraft from harmful radiation derived from the Sun.
Each of NASA’s four payloads deployed successfully. For a full recap of this morning’s launch, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-technology-missions-launch-on-spacex-falcon-heavy