Science

SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch from Cape Canaveral successful

SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch from Cape Canaveral successful”

As SpaceX explains on its website, this vehicle is the most powerful (operational) rocket now in existence.

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

About 34 minutes after liftoff, the shiny silver satellite was successfully deployed. It said in a tweet that the next launch opportunity is Thursday. The second-ever launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket was supposed to happen on Sunday, and then again on Tuesday, and yet again on Wednesday. The rocket can lift nearly 141,000lbs into orbit, which is more than double the Delta IV Heavy, the next closest operational vehicle.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine last month suggested possibly using a Falcon Heavy - and another company's big rocket - to get the space agency's Orion capsule around the moon, minus a crew, in 2020. That mission was more of a test than anything else, with head man Elon Musk deciding to send his own Tesla as the rocket's payload.

In Falcon Heavy's first launch, in February 2018, a dummy dubbed Starman was placed behind the wheel of Musk's roadster, which is now orbiting the Sun somewhere between Earth and Mars. As with past launches, SpaceX livestreamed the launch; the video is available to watch any time below. 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. Followed about two minutes later by the center core's bullseye drone ship landing, both side boosters once again performed a near-simultaneous recovery at SpaceX's Cape Canaveral Landing Zones. In the 2018 test mission, Heavy's core booster missed the vessel and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX is expected to attempt to land all three this week.

The US Air Force tapped SpaceX in 2018 to launch a classified military satellite, which cost it $US130 million ($182.3 million), and in February added three more missions in a $297 million contract.

Lockheed Martin built the satellite, along with a second one, for Arabsat as part of a batch of contracts worth $650 million. When Arabsat announced the contracts in 2015, it said at the time that it planned to launch the Arabsat 6A satellite aboard Falcon Heavy. It went off without a hitch. Above all else, Falcon Heavy Flight 2 has demonstrated that SpaceX's super heavy lift rocket is truly ready to offer routine commercial services for customers - both public and private - around the world.

Falcon Heavy is not expected to fly almost as often as its smaller counterpart, which has completed more than 20 missions since last February.



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