SpaceX Falcon Heavy Successfully Launches STP-2

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at 2:30 a.m. EDT on June 25, 2019, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at 2:30 a.m. EDT on June 25, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

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

 

NASA’s Space Environment Testbeds Deploys

A rendering of NASA's Space Environment Testbeds (SET), one of four agency payloads launching on the Department of Defense's Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission.
A rendering of NASA’s Space Environment Testbeds (SET), one of four agency payloads launching on the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission. Photo credit: NASA

NASA’s final payload aboard STP-2, the Space Environment Testbeds (SET), has successfully deployed at 6:04 a.m. EDT. These instruments, hosted on the Air Force Research Lab’s Demonstration and Science Experiments spacecraft, also the final spacecraft to deploy on STP-2, will study how to protect satellites in space by characterizing the harsh space environment near Earth and how that affects a 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. For more information, visit the SET mission overview site.

NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission Deploys

A rendering of NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM), one of four agency payloads launching on the Department of Defense's Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission.
A rendering of NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM), one of four agency payloads launching on the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission. Photo credit: NASA

NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) has successfully deployed at 3:57 a.m. EDT. GPIM will test a “green” alternative to hydrazine, a highly toxic propellant currently used by spacecraft, as well as a new propulsion system. If successful, this low toxicity fuel and system could replace hydrazine in future missions and ease handling during pre-launch processing.

The final NASA payload aboard the Space Test Program-2, hosted by the Air Force Research Lab’s Demonstration and Space Experiments spacecraft, will deploy in about two hours.

For more information on GPIM, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/green/overview.html

NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock Deploys

The Orbital Testbed satellite, with NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock onboard, has successfully deployed at 3:54 a.m. EDT. The Deep Space Atomic Clock is a technology demonstration that aims to change the way we navigate in space by making future spacecraft more autonomous. Built by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the instrument will remain in low-Earth orbit for one year. For more information on this technology demonstration, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/five-things-to-know-about-nasas-deep-space-atomic-clock

NASA’s Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment Deploys

A rendering of NASA's Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment (E-TBEx), one of four agency payloads launching on the Department of Defense's Space Test Program-2 (STP-2).
A rendering of NASA’s Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment (E-TBEx), one of four agency payloads launching on the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2). Photo credit: NASA

NASA’s Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment (E-TBEx) is made up of twin cube satellites. They have successfully deployed from the rocket at 3:08 a.m. and 3:13 a.m. EDT. E-TBEx 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 every day. For more information on this experiment, visit the E-TBEx website.

LIFTOFF

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at 2:30 a.m. EDT on June 25, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon Heavy rocket carries two dozen satellites to space for the U.S. Department of Defense, including four NASA payloads that are part of the Space Test Program (STP-2) mission, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at 2:30 a.m. EDT on June 25, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

We have liftoff! At 2:30 a.m., SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is on its way to orbit, carrying nearly two dozen satellites and technology experiments on the DoD and U.S. Air Force’s STP-2 mission.

The Falcon Heavy’s 27 Merlin engines are generating more than 5,000 pounds of thrust, quickly pushing the vehicle away from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Ten Minutes until Launch – Everything Looking Great

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying 24 satellites as part of the Department of Defense's Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission is seen illuminated by lights at Launch Complex 39A, Monday, June 24, 2019 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying 24 satellites as part of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission is seen illuminated by lights at Launch Complex 39A, Monday, June 24, 2019 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The three hour launch window opens at 11:30 p.m. EDT on June 24. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Launch preparations are underway, and we are still on track for liftoff at 2:30 a.m. for the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Falcon Heavy will carry nearly two dozen satellites and technology experiments, including four NASA payloads, to space. Watch the SpaceX launch webcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Keep following the blog for updates on liftoff and the agency’s four payload deployments.

A Look at What’s on Board

NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission, or GPIM, is one of the agency's four payloads flying to space aboard the Department of Defense's Space Test Program-2 mission.
NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission, or GPIM, is one of the agency’s four payloads flying to space aboard the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission. STP-2 is scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida at 2:30 a.m. EDT on June 25, 2019. Photo credit: NASA

Today’s mission contains 24 satellites and technology experiments from a variety of government, military and research institutions aimed at improving life here on Earth and advancing the future of space exploration. Also on board are four NASA technology missions and 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 could replace hydrazine in future vehicles and ease handling concerns.
  • 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.

Live Coverage Begins for STP-2

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket stands at Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 6, 2018.
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket stands at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 6, 2018. Photo credit: SpaceX

Hello and welcome from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida! A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket stands ready for liftoff at Launch Complex 39A for the DoD and U.S. Air Force’s STP-2 mission. Launch is scheduled for 2:30 a.m. EDT this morning, with a one-hour launch window. Follow along on NASA Television for the live broadcast.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict an 80% chance of favorable weather for liftoff.

Throughout the duration of the six-hour mission, nearly two dozen satellites – including four NASA payloads – will be delivered to space. NASA’s technologies on board will help improve spacecraft design and performance, advancing future space exploration to the Moon, Mars and beyond.