SpaceX pushes Falcon Heavy launch to Monday night

SpaceX held off a Sunday night attempt to send up its fifth Falcon Heavy launch of the year, delayed it for a day and now aims for Monday night.

Flying for only the ninth time ever, the Falcon Heavy is slated to lift off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39-A during a 10-minute window that opens at 8:14 p.m. A backup during the same window is available Tuesday night.

Weather concerns were an issue for Sunday night and SpaceX said it would take the extra time to complete additional pre-launch checkouts.

The payload for the mission dubbed USSF-52 is the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle on its seventh trip to space. The uncrewed spacecraft has on past missions spent years orbiting the Earth.

The Space Launch Delta 45 weather squadron predicts a 75% chance for good weather conditions on Monday, which drop to 60% on Tuesday.

The first-stage boosters are making their fifth flight and SpaceX plans to have them both land once again back at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 after liftoff.

That means there is potential for the signature double sonic booms that can be heard on the Space Coast and parts of Central Florida.

The Falcon Heavy, which first flew in 2018, is flying its third mission ever for the Space Force. The powerhouse rocket is essentially three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together that generate 5.1 million pounds of thrust on liftoff, the most powerful commercial rocket available. It first flew in 2018 but only had flown three times before last fall when it began making regular appearances at KSC.

This year, the rocket has flown up a Space Force mission, two private satellites, and its most recent this past October, its first-ever NASA mission flying the Psyche probe up for its six-year mission to a metallic asteroid.

A second launch at nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station was also approved for the range, a Falcon 9 at Space Launch Complex 40 during a window that runs from 11 p.m. Sunday to 3 a.m. Monday, but SpaceX has not announced it would attempt that flight and may delay any attempt of that until after Falcon Heavy launches.

Whichever rocket launches first would be the Space Coast’s 69th of the year, with all by four coming from SpaceX.