The Falcon Heavy launch of the GOES-U satellite delayed

Falcon Heavy ahead of the ViaSat-3 launch (Credit Richard Angle)

NASA and SpaceX have delayed the first Falcon Heavy launch of the year until no earlier than June 25th.

The delay comes after the rocket center core booster’s routine testing at SpaceX’s Rocket Development and Test Facility in McGregor, Texas, revealed a leak.

The 3 cores launching GOES-U are all brand new, and with every brand new Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy core/side booster, they are brought to McGregor for a full round of testing, culminating in a full static fire.

After those tests are completed, the rockets are transported to either Florida or California for their launch campaign. SpaceX used to precede every launch with a static fire, but in recent years, with the use of flight-proven launch vehicles, only high-profile launches, such as crewed or important government satellite missions, conduct a static fire.

With the GOES-U mission using 3 brand new Falcons, SpaceX will conduct a brief static fire at Launch Complex 39A ahead of launch.

GOES-U will be the 4th launch and final launch of the Series-R platform. This satellite has been modified to fix an issue that caused a malfunction of GOES-17, which forced the satellite to be moved to a “storage orbit” and replaced by GOES-18. The satellites are designed to have an operational life of 15 years.

The current three Falcon cores assigned to GOES-U are Booster 1087, the center core, which will be flying in its expendable configuration, and side Boosters 1072 and 1086. B1072 has also undergone two rounds of testing at McGregor after facing its own issues. While the center core will be expended, the two side cores will return to Landing Zones 1 & 2 and be used on future missions.

Falcon Heavy side boosters returning to the landing zones (Credit Richard Angle)

GOES-U will be the first of three Falcon Heavy missions planned for this year, the other two being NASA’s Europa Clipper and Astrobotic’s Griffin Moon lander.

Are you looking forward to the first Falcon Heavy launch of the year?

Questions or comments? Shoot me an email at, or Tweet me @RDAnglePhoto.

The Falcon Heavy launch of the GOES-U satellite delayed
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