SpaceX Falcon Heavy's first national security launch delayed again

The US Space Force USSF-44 mission set to launch on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket has been delayed once again due to a 'payload readiness' issue, Space Force Command has confirmed. The USSF-44 mission was first scheduled to launch this past July, but was delayed to early October because the payload wasn't ready. The next launch date is less firm, but will happen next year.

The Falcon Heavy rocket will carry two military payloads into space via the USSF-44 and USSF-52 missions — both of which were delayed earlier this year. These missions will follow the Falcon Heavy military launch in June 2019, but it seems a persistent "payload readiness" issue is getting in the way of timely launches.

The USSF-44 mission will include the TETRA 1 microsatellite from Millennium Space Systems, but other objects that'll be part of the payload haven't been revealed to the public. Both the USSF-44 and USSF-52 missions are now scheduled to launch in early 2022, with the USSF-52 specifically earmarked for the year's second quarter.

The latest delay was confirmed by the US Space Force to Spaceflightnow, which reports that these delays will result in several Falcon Heavy launches next year, including four that will take place by July. The upcoming USSF-44 mission is described as a 'challenging' launch, one that will result in loss of the rocket's center core, but that will allow the two side boosters to be recovered.

SpaceX will also launch the USSF-67 mission next year, but it remains unclear whether that mission will involve Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy. Beyond national security payloads, SpaceX will also use its Falcon Heavy rocket to launch the NASA Psyche spacecraft next summer, sending it on its way to explore an asteroid.