SpaceX's huge Falcon Heavy rocket just breathed fire for the first time in more than three years.
Static fires, in which a rocket's first-stage engines are briefly ignited while the vehicle remains anchored to the ground, are a common prelaunch trial. The completion of the milestone keeps the Heavy on track to launch the USSF-44 mission for the U.S. Space Force on Tuesday (Nov. 1), SpaceX said in Thursday's tweet.
Static fire of Falcon Heavy complete; targeting Tuesday, November 1 for launch of the USSF-44 mission from Launch Complex 39A in FloridaOctober 28, 2022
That post didn't identify a target launch time on Tuesday, but multiple sources have pegged 9:40 a.m. EDT (opens in new tab) (1340 GMT) as T-0.
A Tuesday target is a slight slip for USSF-44, which had been eyeing a "no earlier than" date of Oct. 31.
USSF-44 will be the fourth launch overall for the Falcon Heavy and its first since June 2019. The huge rocket will carry two satellites aloft for the Space Force, which has not revealed much about the payloads or their purposes.
"This launch culminates years of effort by a dedicated team comprised of mission-focused people from across the U.S. Space Force and SpaceX," Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy, the Space Force's program executive officer for assured access to space, said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
"The Falcon Heavy is an important element of our overall lift capability, and we're very excited to be ready for launch," he added.
The Starlink flight, which also featured a landing of the Falcon 9's first stage on a ship at sea, took off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. It was SpaceX's 49th orbital mission of 2022.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).