SpaceX fans eager to watch the second launch of the company’s massive Falcon Heavy rocket should forget about witnessing a second spectacle in June and sit tight for a few more months.
The U.S. Air Force is targeting October for its Space Test Program 2 mission, known as STP-2, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Space Command said in an email. The military had said earlier this year that it was targeting June. The Air Force didn’t immediately provide a reason for the delay, but shifts in launch dates are common in the industry.
Elon Musk-led Space Exploration Technologies Corp. pulled off its first Falcon Heavy test flight in February, delivering the chief executive officer’s cherry red Tesla Roadster with a spacesuit-wearing mannequin at the wheel toward an Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun. The Falcon Heavy mission for the Air Force will be its first for a paying customer. STP-2 has a number of objectives, including demonstrating the new rocket’s capabilities and launching several satellites.
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“It’s not surprising that the target date slipped,” said Greg Autry, a professor at the University of Southern California and a former NASA White House liaison. “An Air Force payload is a lot different than a Tesla Roadster.”
In the meantime, SpaceX is preparing for a Thursday launch of the Bangabandhu satellite from 39A pad at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The closely held company flew a record 18 missions last year and is targeting roughly 30 launches in 2018.
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