An epic SpaceX launch of Falcon Heavy – only the second space flight of this missile line – brings a number of NASA technologies one step closer to launching its own orbit.
Falcon heavy yesterday made its first operational flight (April 11), who blew up the communications satellite Arabsat-6A while successfully landing all three missiles – including the core and two boosters.
"We are pleased with the success of yesterday's launch of Falcon Heavy and the first-stage first-stage landings," said Jim Reuter, NASA's executive director of space technology, said in a statement, "We have important technologies ready to fly, and this success is helping us to go that route."
Connected: SpaceXs amazing falcon heavy launch of Arabsat-6A in photos
NASA plans to launch several experiments simultaneously in space, all aimed at improving the design and performance of future spacecraft. The missions will be launched as part of the US Air Force Space Test Program 2 (STP-2) mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The current The planned start date is sometime in Juneaccording to space travel now; In the same statement, NASA said the Air Force and SpaceX were preparing to launch in the next few months.
Connected: SpaceX is recovering from Falcon Heavy Nose Cone and will fly it again this year
One of the NASA experiments involves a pair of Cubesats, small and relatively cheap satellites the size of a lunch box. These devices together comprise the Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment (E-TBEx) and measure how "bubbles" (or distortions) in the upper atmosphere interfere with radio signals and GPS. The agency hopes to better forecast these disruptions in order to improve future communication technologies.
The Falcon Heavy will also loft the NASA's Green Propellant Infusion mission, which will test an alternative to traditional chemical propulsion in rockets. A new fuel / oxidizer blend called Hydroxylammonium Nitrate is being tested according to NASAis safer to handle and better for the environment than hydrazine, a popular but toxic Rocket engine fuel,
Rounding out NASA's planned mission for the mission is the Deep Space Atomic Clock, a high-precision clock designed to enhance navigation, and the Space Environment Testbeds device, which examines how solar radiation near Earth is impacting the hardware of the NASA Spacecraft affects.
The nonprofit Planetary Society has also arranged a payload for the launch of the STP-2 Falcon Heavy. The device called Light Sail, it is tested whether a Cubesat with a 324 square meter solar-powered sail can navigate into orbit.