SpaceX Launches First Falcon Heavy Rocket Since 2019, 50th Launch of 2022

SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket for the fourth time ever on Tuesday in a mission for the U.S. Space Force. It the first flight of the giant booster since June 2019, and the company’s 50th launch of 2022.

USSF payloads include a pair of space tugs, a military communications satellite, and a microsatellite named TETRA-1 built by Millennium Space Systems. There were also four payloads from Lockheed Martin and Universal Space Network.

Falcon Heavy Rideshare Payloads

Payload Organization Purpose
USSF-44 U.S. Space Force Military communications
LDPE-2 U.S. Space Force Space tug
Shepherd Demonstration U.S. Space Force Space tug
TETRA-1 U.S. Space Force Technology demonstration
LINUSS Chase (LINUS-A1) Lockheed Martin Space Satellite servicing technology demonstration
LINUSS RSO (LINUS-A2) Lockheed Martin Space Satellite servicing technology demonstration
USUVL Universal Space Network Technology demonstration
WL2XOU Universal Space Network Technology demonstration

Millennium said TETRA-1 “created for various prototype missions in and around geosynchronous earth orbit.” The company added that it designed, manufactured, assembled and integrated TETRA-1 “60 percent faster than previous missions” to demonstrate to USSF the speed at which new satellites could be developed.

Millennium might have built the satellite quickly, but its ride to space has been long in coming. The company’s press release extolling completion of the satellite is dated April 21, 2020.

Lockheed Martin’s payloads — LINUSS stands for Lockheed Martin In-space Upgrade Satellite System — are designed to get the company into the business of satellite servicing and life-extension in geosynchronous orbit.

The functions of the two Universal Space Network satellites are unknown. Wikipedia describes the company as a U.S. subsidiary of Swedish Space Corporation that specializes in the “tracking, telemetry, and control of spacecraft.”