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Falcon Heavy launch

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

Falcon Heavy launch


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Payloads on Falcon Heavy, objectives and significance.


Context: Elon Musk’s SpaceX recently launched its Falcon Heavy spacecraft on its third mission, and the most complex one yet by the company. Among the various reasons which make the mission important, one is its huge payload — 24 satellites from various organisations, including government agencies.


Various payloads:

Deep Space Atomic Clock:

Sent by NASA and collaborators.

DSAC is expected to be stable to better than one microsecond per decade (one second per 10 million years), which would be about 50 times more accurate than atomic clocks already abroad GPS satellites.

The technology targets aims at helping spacecraft navigate by themselves, relying on the new atomic clock in space.


ASCENT green fuel:

It is a safer rocket fuel.

Unlike the traditional fuel used in satellites, which is hydrazine, which is extremely toxic to humans as well as the environment, the new alternative called ASCENT (Advanced Spacecraft Energetic Non-toxic Propellant), formerly called AF-M315E, is a hydroxyl ammonium nitrate fuel/oxidiser blend.

First developed by the US Air Force and now launched as part of a NASA-led collaboration, ASCENT is described as a fuel with significantly reduced toxicity levels compared to hydrazine, and potentially shorter launch processing times, resulting in lower costs.


Solar-powered sail:

LightSail 2 is a crowd-funded solar sail project from the Planetary Society.

It seeks to become the first orbiting spacecraft to be propelled solely by sunlight.

In 2015, LightSail 1 spacecraft successfully completed a test flight.


Sources: Indian Express.