2nd Falcon Heavy launch rescheduled for Wednesday

by Fredrick Graves April 11, 2019, 0:23
2nd Falcon Heavy launch rescheduled for Wednesday

Falcon Heavy will vault a pricey communications satellite into orbit for Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat.

Assuming these boosters survive, they'll be reused on the Falcon Heavy's next planned launch, the STP-2 mission for the U.S. Air Force, tentatively scheduled for June.

Since then, the USA military and private clients have signed contracts for Falcon Heavy launches, and NASA has raised the possibility it may use the rocket for its planned missions to the Moon.

Falcon Heavy's most immediate and tangible impact has been with national security missions.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy will launch the Arabsat-6A satellite from Launch Complex 39Z (LC-39Z) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Roadster and its dummy space suited pilot named "Starman" are now headed for the asteroid belt.

Tonight's launch was originally expected to light up the skies at 6:35 p.m, but is now expected to lift off at 8:00 p.m.

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Part of Falcon Heavy's appeal is the fact that its hardware is reusable. These boosters will later be refurbished and re-used, which SpaceX says drastically reduces the cost of spaceflight. It has three rocket boosters, which are strapped together during launch and are created to then break apart and make pinpoint landings back on Earth. The first retrieval didn't go so well for the poor old core booster, which missed the landing and plunged into the ocean. The Arabsat 6A satellite was built by Lockheed Martin to provide television, radio, mobile and broadband services across the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

When the rocket flew past year, its two side boosters made synchronized landings on side-by-side ground pads in Florida.

After liftoff and separation, Falcon Heavy's three first-stage boosters will return to Earth for landing. Wednesday's launch will mark the launch vehicle's first commercial mission-the Arabsat-6A telecommunications satellite.

SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, set a company record previous year with 21 launches for customers. At liftoff, the Falcon Heavy Block 5 rocket's 27 Merlin 1D engines are expected to produce no less than 5.1 million pounds (~2300 mT/23,000 kN) of thrust at full throttle, but that figure could rise as high as 5.6 million pounds (2550 mT/25,500 kN) of thrust depending on how one interprets rather vague official numbers from CEO Elon Musk.

In other words, the satellites will be deployed about 34 minutes after launch.

The potential market should only increase as Falcon Heavy demonstrates more success. Falcon Heavy only has five missions on its manifest so far.

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