Late last night (June 19), and after several hours of weather-related delays, the massive rocket roared to life, as smoke billowed from its engines during a preflight test.
SpaceX and the U.S. Department of Defense will launch two dozen satellites to space, including four NASA payloads that are part of the Space Test Program-2, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.
Just before 1 a.m. local time (0500 GMT), SpaceX tweeted that the test was a success and that the company was targeting a Monday evening launch.
The launch is scheduled for approximately 8:30 p.m. California time. The mission will be Falcon Heavy's first for the military. This will mark the third flight for Falcon Heavy but the first to carry more than one satellite.
The STP-2 multi-manifest (rideshare) launch will demonstrate the capabilities of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle and provide critical data supporting certification for future National Security Space Launch missions.
As such Elon Musk has said that this will be the most complicated and most hard launch ever. On a manned mission to Mars, astronauts could easily miss their destination waiting for the return signal from Earth. The boosters were refueled and refitted for the upcoming launch.
The Falcon Heavy Block 5 side boosters were previously used for the Arabsat 6A launch in April 2019.
SpaceX's rocket nose cone-catching vessel GO Ms. Tree (formerly known as Mr. Steven) will attempt to catch the payload fairing as it plunges from space with a net suspended by the vessel's four 205-foot-long arms. The central core also successfully touched down on a SpaceX "drone ship", but that booster fell victim to rough seas, toppling over into the ocean before reaching shore.
SpaceX's largest functional launch vehicle, the Falcon Heavy, has already taken to the skies twice over the past couple of years, and both launches were almost flawless, save for some snafus during retrieval of its boosters.
Taxpayers are paying the bill for the launch.