Updated: Oct 25, 2022
The mission for the U.S. Space Force has been delayed by issues with the payload.
At the end of October, SpaceX will launch its first Falcon Heavy rocket in more than three years, carrying a mission critical to the U.S. Space Force's national security.
According to a Space Force official, the fourth Falcon Heavy rocket is scheduled to launch from Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 28.
Due to problems with the payload, the USSF-44 mission has been postponed for two years. No additional information has been supplied, however those problems have now been fixed.
Falcon Heavy; Image: SpaceX
There isn't much information about the USSF-44 mission, however a microsatellite called TETRA 1 made by Millennium Space Systems will be travelling with it. According to a request for proposals sent to potential launch service providers, the aggregate mass of the payloads will be less than 8,200 pounds (3,700 kilograms).
(TETRA-1 satellite; Image: Millennium Space Systems)
A two-stage rocket, the Falcon Heavy has a first stage made up of three cores, each of which is equivalent to a Falcon 9 rocket. There are nine Merlin engines in each of those cores. At liftoff, the 27 engines of the first stage of the Falcon Heavy generate more than 5 million pounds (22,819 kilonewtons) of thrust.
The mission's two side cores are scheduled to touch down at SpaceX's recovery site at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, but due to the flight profile, the core stage won't have enough propellant left over to attempt a landing on its own.
According to SpaceX, the 230-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon Heavy can launch roughly 141,000 lbs. (64 metric tons) of payload into low Earth orbit, making it by far the most potent operational rocket when it first flew in February 2018.
Even though the Falcon Heavy has only made three launches to date, it will be used for a number of significant missions in the coming years, such as the Psyche asteroid mission in 2023, the Europa Clipper mission in 2024, and the dark matter-hunting Roman Space Telescope mission sometime around 2026.