Final booster for first SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch of this year completes testing in McGregor, Texas

While the Falcon 9 continues to smash launch cadence records with already 9 flights this year, its bigger sibling the Falcon Heavy still hasn’t been seen since 2019. SpaceX plans to launch 1 maybe even 2 this year if schedules can hold, the first of which is getting closer to being ready for flight.

The next Falcon Heavy launch is planning on using 3 brand new Falcon 9 boosters to send a classified Depart of Defense payload directly to geostationary orbit. Usually, missions send satellites to these orbits to what is called a geostationary transfer orbit. Still within low Earth orbit, this orbit gets the satellites close but it then needs to use its own fuel to get it the rest of the way into the correct orbit.

A direct to geostationary orbit can save the team developing the new satellite years of station-keeping fuel as well as mass with not needing larger propulsion to get it to the final orbit. Falcon Heavy will be able to do this by expending the center core booster and using two droneships to recover the side boosters instead of the iconic double landing back at LZ 1 and 2.

Two Falcon Heavy side boosters land at LZ 1 and 2. Credit: SpaceX

Last booster lowered back at McGregor

In McGregor, Texas SpaceX owns a plot of land used as its R&D and testing site for every new engine and booster that comes off the lines in Hawthorne. There we saw over the last few months all three boosters for USSF-44 stood up and test-fired to make sure they are ready for launch. After these tests sometimes they are sent back to California for final preparations for launch or they are taken directly to whichever launch complex they are assigned to.

Now that all three boosters seem to have finished their checkouts in Texas, processes can begin to move forward on preparations for SpaceX’s USSF-44 mission as soon as July of this year.


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