A Falcon Heavy launch./C&J Images

by Clarence Oxford

Los Angeles CA (SPX) Dec 28, 2023

SpaceX has successfully launched the USSF-52 mission using its Falcon Heavy rocket, marking a significant achievement in the ongoing collaboration between Space Systems Command (SSC) and SpaceX. The launch occurred at 8:07 p.m. ET from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, demonstrating the capabilities and resilience of the Falcon Heavy rocket.

This successful launch represents the fifth mission for the Falcon Heavy’s current set of side boosters, which have a proven track record in missions such as USSF-44, USSF-67, Hughes JUPTER 3, and NASA’s Psyche mission. Post-launch, these side boosters successfully landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, underscoring the rocket’s reusable technology.

The primary objective of the USSF-52 mission was to deploy the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle on its seventh mission, a critical component of the U.S. Space Force’s strategy for testing reusable, unmanned space technologies. Brig. Gen. Kristin Panzenhagen, Program Executive Officer for Assured Access to Space and Commander of Space Launch Delta 45, lauded the mission’s success, emphasizing its importance for national security and space exploration.

This launch marks the third time the Falcon Heavy has been utilized for a national security payload, showcasing its essential role in providing reliable, advanced launch capabilities and secure access to space. The success of the USSF-52 mission is a testament to the enhanced capabilities of the Falcon Heavy and its importance in the U.S. space program.

Throughout 2023, the partnership between SSC and SpaceX has led to a series of successful missions, including the USSF-67 mission and a Falcon 9 rocket launch carrying a GPS satellite. These achievements highlight the team’s proficiency and responsiveness in executing crucial space missions.

The U.S. Space Force, preparing for a demanding launch schedule that includes the deployment of various satellite constellations, relies on this collaboration to maintain a strong presence in space. The success of the USSF-52 mission is a significant step in this direction, reinforcing the U.S.’s position in the space sector.

SSC, with a $15 billion space acquisition budget from the Department of Defense, continues to play a pivotal role in the U.S. Space Force’s efforts to procure resilient space capabilities and advanced technologies. The cooperation between SSC and entities like SpaceX, joint forces, industry partners, government agencies, academic institutions, and allies is crucial in driving innovation in space-based security and exploration.

[28 Dec 2023] SpaceX Falcon Heavy Successfully Launches USSF-52 Mission
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