USAF certifies Falcon Heavy - orders satellite launch for 2020

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Wins US Air Force Launch Contract Worth $130 Million

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SpaceX's Falcon Heavy- the world's most powerful still operational rocket has received the approval of the US Air Force (USAF).

The payload for the U.S. Air Force mission won't be a sports vehicle, but it will launch from the Space Coast.

The contract is worth 130 000 000 dollars.

According to CNN, the only other eligible entity that could apply for the contract was United Launch Alliance (ULA), a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The Falcon Heavy rocket is due to launch with the government's AFSPC-52 satellite in 2020 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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As the Inquisitr previously reported, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy on its first test mission in February, marking a great success for Elon Musk's private space company.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket boasts about three times the power of SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.

The Air Force expects to send its AFSPC-52 satellite into orbit aboard the Falcon Heavy in the summer or fall of 2020 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

While it requires far less rigor than the Air Force's more secretive, national security-sensitive satellite launches, SpaceX's second Falcon Heavy launch - this time with three highly-reusable Block 5 boosters - will also be conducted with the military branch as the primary customer.

Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, on Wednesday was awarded its first-ever U.S. Air Force contract to fire a classified military satellite into space using its Falcon Heavy rocket.

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"The competitive award of this EELV launch service contract directly supports Space and Missile Systems Center's (SMC) mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space", explained John Thompson, lieutenant general and program executive officer.

Falcon Heavy prepares for its inaugural launch in early 2018.

If the SpaceX military mission is successful, the Falcon Heavy "could displace ULA's Delta IV simply on cost grounds", the media outlet reports, citing industry sources. The awe-inspiring rocket did, however, complete a nearly-flawless debut launch in February 2018, a mission that required the company's Falcon upper stage to survive a lengthy (6+ hour) coast in orbit before igniting its Merlin vacuum engine for one final burn.

With regard to the contract won, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president, and COO, said the company is humbled to be of service to the taxpayers.

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