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SpaceX launches fifth Falcon Heavy mission, carrying military satellites

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As the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches at 5:56 p.m. Sunday, the plume of the core stage is illuminated in the dusk sky as its side boosters fire to return to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The heavy lift vehicle is launching USSF 67, a communications satellite, for the U.S. Space Force. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI
As the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches at 5:56 p.m. Sunday, the plume of the core stage is illuminated in the dusk sky as its side boosters fire to return to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The heavy lift vehicle is launching USSF 67, a communications satellite, for the U.S. Space Force. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 15 (UPI) -- SpaceX launched its fifth Falcon Heavy rocket mission, USSF-67, on Sunday from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

The rocket made liftoff at 5:56 p.m. EST, with 5 million pounds of thrust.

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The payload included two military satellite systems: the Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM and Long Duration Propulsive ESPA.

The first system is a geostationary relay satellite which enhances communication abilities to support U.S. security leaders. The second provides data to the U.S. Space Force and carries and directs smaller payloads for the program.

The payloads also include prototype systems used for secure space-to-ground communication.

Sunday's Falcon Heavy launch was the second in the last three months following a three-year gap between the third and fourth missions.

"This is a complex mission and truly represents what Assured Access to Space is about and is why we're so enthusiastic about this upcoming launch...our second Falcon Heavy in just months," Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy, program executive officer for Assured Access to Space, said according to SatNews.

On Nov. 1, a rocket was launched for the USSF-44 mission, deploying two spacecrafts into orbit: the TETRA 1 microsatellite developed by Boeing subsidiary Millennium Space Systems for the U.S. military.

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Four more Falcon Heavy launches are planned for this year.

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