First contracted launch of Falcon Heavy is scheduled on October 2016. This time payload is provided by U.S. Air Force under the Space Test Program 2. Planned launch site will be Kennedy Space Center LC-39A, USA.
SpaceX is continually expanding its offer for government agencies and Department of Defense. Launch scheduled on October 2016 will be research mission under Space Test Program 2 run by U.S. Air Force. STP is main DoD space program covering all experimental, scientific and research launches. Started in 1965 with first launch in 1967 is still developing with virtually unchanged main objective – maximal number of launches within available funds. In earlier years Space Test Program was strictly oriented for testing and researching on military or government agencies projects. This time situation has changed and civilian contribution became significant. In planned launch in October 2016 couple interesting non-military projects had chance to took part in STP. Good example could be testing possibility of using solar sails to move satellites in outer space. Cubesat satellite will be technology demonstrator of LightSail – solar sail designed and manufactured by Planetary Society only with the help of donated funds. Technology would be of course quite interesting for military purposes – satellite operating only with solar power with light, reliable and low cost propulsion, with long orbital life is useful and could be adopted in observation satellites. In spite of LightSail demonstrator on EELV will be placed GPIM (Green Propellant Infusion Mission- program of developing new ecological propellant for engines utilized in satellites) BCP-100 satellite. GPIM is NASA program oriented to searching new, ecologically clean fuel for spacecraft engines. BCP-100 will test Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate fuel/oxidizer blend, which was invented during existing research. Results of this program will be made available for commercial companies offering launch services across USA. Next satellite on board will be under ISAT (Innovative Space based radar Antenna Technology) program. It is military program focused on testing possibility of using very long (around 250-300 m) radar antennas deployed from satellites. Next part of the payload will be Six COSMIC-2 satellites. They are result of cooperation between National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Taiwan’s National Space Organization (NSPO). They are designed as weather and observation satellites, helping in atmosphere and gravity research. Another instrument on STP-2 will be DSX (Deployable Structures Experiment); Air Force Research Laboratory experiment on the deployment, dynamics, control and MEO environment degradation of extensive, deployable constructions. Following satellites are OTB 1 (Orbital Test Bed satellite based on SSTL-150 bus) with hosted payload of NASA atomic clock for navigation purposes, FalconSat 6 (microsatellite testing various propulsion modes in different maneuvers designed by U.S. Air Force Academy), NPSat 1 (satellite testing non-volatile ferroelectric RAM and new type of lithium-ion battery designed in Naval Postgraduate School), Oculus-ASR (satellite designed as undergraduate program of students of Michigan Technological University), Prox 1 (demonstrator of automated trajectory control designed by Georgia Tech undergraduate and graduate students), ARMADILLO (Attitude Related Maneuvers and Debris Instrumentation in Low (L) Orbit satellite designed by students of University of Texas at Austin and Baylor University), FalconSat 7 satellite (designed by U.S. Air Force Academy satellite with Peregrine – first space-based membrane telescope in space).
Mission is realized under EELV contract with USAF, signed by SpaceX in 2012. Planned launch vehicle will be Falcon Heavy – it will be first contracted launch of this rocket. SpaceX work hard to get first contract for their new rocket – success will probably increase chances for next contracts from Department of Defense. For now SpaceX was not able to offer comparative solution to ULA’s Delta IV Heavy or Atlas V which have dominated heavy rocket market. Falcon Heavy was designed as combination of two boosters and core with second stage. Boosters are two Falcon-9 1.2V rockets with nine Merlin engines with improved thrust comparing to Falcon-9 1.1v. Central core will be Falcon-9 1.1V rocket with earlier version of thrust control. In this version thrust is at 5880 kN. Second stage is powered by single vacuum converted Merlin-1D engine with thrust at 801 kN. Rocket height is 68.4 m and it weighs 1462836 kg. Rocket will offer 53000 kg payload for LEO missions and for GTO impressive 21200 kg.