Tonight is the night! The launch window opens at 11:30 p.m. EST!
SpaceX is about to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket for the third time, the company’s first-ever night launch of its mammoth rocket and one of the company’s hardest launches ever.
In total there are 24 satellites on board the spacecraft, and SpaceX will be tasked with deploying them in three different orbits. This means the rocket will have to restart its engine four times while in space, a process expected to take three and a half hours as the rocket is put through its paces. “This will be our most difficult launch ever,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter.
On board is an atomic clock developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) called the Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC), designed to be 50 times more accurate than existing atomic clocks in space. There’s also another NASA mission to test out a new form of “green” spacecraft propulsion, composed of something called hydroxylammonium nitrate.
There’s a memorial spacecraft on board that will be taking a small amount of ashes from 152 people into space, not too dissimilar to the mission we reported on towards the end of 2018. There’s also satellites that will measure radiation in orbit, monitor how radio transmissions are hampered by Earth’s atmosphere, and much more.
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