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SpaceX's Second Falcon Heavy Rocket Spectacle Slips to October

Dana Hull
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Feb. 6, 2018. Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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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