SpaceX gears up for Falcon Heavy's first flight since 2019 with a static fire test

The Falcon Heavy is scheduled to ferry US Space Force satellites to orbit on November 1st.


SpaceX is on track to launch the Falcon Heavy for the first time in three years after it successfully put the heavy-lift launch vehicle through a static fire test. The private space corporation has announced the test's successful completion on Twitter, along with a photo of the rocket as it breathes out fire and smoke while perched at NASA Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A. During a static fire test, a rocket's engines are ignited to check their performance while remaining on the ground.

The company conducted this particular test in preparation for USSF-44, the classified mission SpaceX is flying for the US Space Force. USSF-44 will have two payloads, both satellites, that will be deployed into geostationary orbit. It was originally scheduled for liftoff on October 31st, but SpaceX is currently targeting a November 1st launch. The company hasn't revealed a launch time within the day yet, but according to Space and Next Spaceflight, it will happen around 9:40AM ET.

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SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket first took flight in 2018, carrying a cherry red Tesla Roadster owned by company chief Elon Musk with a dummy dubbed "Starman" in the driver's seat. The last time it flew was in June 2019, and SpaceX described it at the time as one of the "most challenging" launches in its history — landing the center core proved too tricky that it missed the drone ship waiting for it by a few feet. Since then, it has been certified to carry the Space Force's secret spy satellites to orbit, and the first of those missions could occur in a few days' time.