SpaceX’s most powerful rocket will serve like never before in 2023

SpaceX will launch more Falcon Heavy in 2023 than in five years. Five missions have been planned for this year, one of which has already taken place. By comparison, there have only been four from 2018 to 2022.

She has flown very little since the beginning of her career, but in 2023 everything should change. The Falcon Heavy rocket, which made its first takeoff of the year in mid-January, will cross the launch pad much more often. So much so that she should do as many missions this year as in her entire career, which began in 2018.

A record expected in 2023 for the Falcon Heavy

SpaceX’s current schedule includes five takeoffs in total for 2023. In addition to the January 15 mission, conducted on behalf of the US Space Force (the branch of the US military dedicated to space operations), four other launches are planned. Unless the schedule changes, three must take place during the spring and one in the fall.

Thus, the next launch operation is expected no later than March. It was originally scheduled to take place in 2022, but the satellite to be placed in orbit – ViaSat-3 – would not have been ready in time. The flight will also carry another smaller satellite, Arcturus. Then, in April, another mission will be flown, again for the Space Force.

The last spring 2023 launch is expected in May. It will be a commercial mission, like the one planned for March, to deploy two satellites: Jupiter 3 / EchoStar 24. Again, this mission should have left earlier, in 2021, but there has been a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Falcon Heavy takeoff in January 2023. // Source: SpaceX

As for the last mission of the Falcon Heavy in 2023, an appointment is made for October. It will also be one of the major space missions of the year. It will be a question of sending a probe near a metallic asteroid – NASA has described it as a “world of metal” because of its composition mixing iron and nickel. This is the Psyché mission, which also should have left earlier.

In fact, if the schedule is kept this time, that makes a total of five takeoffs in 2023 for the Falcon Heavy. This is unheard of for this heavy launcher since the start of its career in February 2018. Since its maiden flight – which consisted of sending a Tesla Roadster into an orbit crossing Mars – the rocket has only been used three other times. : twice in 2019 and once in 2022.

Four launches between 2018 and 2022… and now five planned for 2023

The Falcon Heavy would therefore carry out many more launches in 2023 than during its entire career, which is already five years long. It is true that this situation is partly caused by exogenous factors. SpaceX, like others, was disrupted from 2020 with the pandemic, causing slowdowns and postponements. It remains to be seen whether this dynamic will be the launcher’s new cruising speed.

The Falcon Heavy is today the most powerful rocket in the SpaceX catalog: the machine is based on the Falcon 9 (which is the launcher the company uses on a daily basis for almost all of its missions), with in addition two other halves of Falcon 9. These half-rockets are used here as boosters to provide a much higher thrust at takeoff.

In the medium term, the Falcon Heavy like the Falcon 9 must bow out – however, there is still talk of flying the two machines again for a few years. The company is working on another launcher, presented as much more versatile than its current offer: it is the Starship. However, it has not yet been tested in conditions close to a real flight.

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Source: SpaceX

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