SpaceX to Break Record with Upcoming Falcon Heavy Launch

SpaceX has confirmed that the Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) droneship will be stationed 1,240 kilometres (770 miles) downrange from the Kennedy Space Center ready for a Falcon Heavy core stage touchdown. This is the farthest downrange a droneship has ever been stationed smashing the previous record set by the Arabsat mission launched in April by almost 300 kilometres (180 miles).

The Department of Defense’s Space Test Program 2 (STP-2) Falcon Heavy mission is set to be launched from the Kennedy Space Center on June 25 at 03:30 UTC. The mission will carry 25 small satellites including the Deep Space Atomic Clock and the LightSail 2, a privately funded solar sail powered spacecraft.

While this will be the first launch of the core booster, both side boosters (B1052 and B1053) are flight proven having previously launched the Arabsat-6A satellite earlier this year. Following the launch, both side boosters will return to the Kennedy Space Center. The core stage will touch down on the OCISLY droneship, which, according to recent FCC filings will be stationed at 27°56’52”N 68°0’55”W, 1,240 kilometres (770 miles) off the coast of Florida.

In addition to breaking the record for a booster recovery father downrange than ever before, the STP-2 mission will also be one of the most challenging SpaceX has ever attempted. In total, the mission is scheduled to last a total of six hours during which the upper stage will perform four planned burns to deploy payloads into three separate deployment obits. The mission will conclude with an unusual “propulsive passivation manoeuvre”. The manoeuvre will allow SpaceX to avoid relighting the 1 Merlin 1D Vacuum engine for a fifth time while still reducing the time to orbital decay of the spent second stage.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.