The next scheduled launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy has been delayed by several months. The launch has been delayed as the US military delayed two upcoming missions because of issues unrelated to the rocket. US Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has said that the launch has been pushed to October 2021. Earlier, the launch of Space Force’s first SpaceX Falcon Heavy was scheduled for July 2021. The mission has been named USSF-44. It was delayed to accommodate payload readiness. There are indications that significant delays in the main geostationary satellite payload of the mission last year may have been responsible for an earlier launch delay.
US SMC Colonel Robert Bongiovi also said that the USSF-52 mission has also been pushed back. Both the missions were supposed to carry the highest-priority national security payloads of the US Military. With this, there is only a scheduled launch of the Falcon Heavy this year. Deputy director of SMC’s launch enterprise Colonel Douglas Pentecost said that the USSF-52 mission was scheduled for October launch but has now been pushed to 2022. Pentecost said that the decision to move the launch to next year has been taken on the basis of ‘launch manifest priorities.’ This mission was earlier scheduled for launch in October this year.
Both the missions are planned to take off from pad 39A of Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Multiple military payloads will be launched by the Falcon Heavy into a high-altitude geosynchronous orbit during the USSF-44 mission. These satellites will be positioned at a height of over 22,000 miles above the equator. The USSF-44 mission of SpaceX would be the most demanding launch yet as the upper stage flight profile will last for more than five hours. SpaceX has now at least five Falcon Heavy launches scheduled for the next year. USSF-52 mission is expected to be the first in the lineup for next year. This will be followed by the launch of ViaSat-3.