SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Prepares for First Commercial Liftoff Wednesday

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Prepares for First Commercial Liftoff Wednesday

Kenneth Drake
April 11, 2019

This historic first launch of the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V of the 1960s will lift-off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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.

Falcon Heavy's three Falcon 9 components are clearly on display in the hangar before its Wednesday launch.

"Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars".

At the end of the month, on April 25, SpaceX is also expected to launch their regular Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule for their 17 supply mission to the International Space Station. The vehicle, which was carrying a space-suited mannequin nicknamed Starman, was vaulted into outer space and is expected to orbit the sun for the foreseeable future.

Tonight's 117-minute-long launch window opens at 6:35 p.m. and with clear skies, the launch should be visible across much of Florida. These boosters will later be refurbished and re-used, which SpaceX says drastically reduces the cost of spaceflight. But the middle booster missed a seaborne platform it was created to land on, and instead splashed into the ocean. 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.

When the rocket flew a year ago, its two side boosters made synchronized landings on side-by-side ground pads in Florida. SpaceX is expected to attempt to land all three this week.

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A spokesperson for the Parwan governor said a suicide bomber had targeted a convoy of coalition forces at Bagram. The statement further added that the wounded service members were evacuated and are receiving medical care.

"Now targeting Falcon Heavy launch of Arabsat-6A on Wednesday, April 10 - weather forecast improves to 80% favorable", SpaceX tweeted in an update on 9 April. The satellite was built by Lockheed Martin and will provide telephone, internet and cable to parts of the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

After liftoff and separation, Falcon Heavy's three first-stage boosters will return to Earth for landing.

SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, set a company record previous year with 21 launches for customers.

Musk's casual mentions of a potential explosion spooked Arabsat executives, according to Bloomberg.

In a departure from past designs, the satellite features thin, flexible solar arrays instead of the rigid panels used on other spacecraft.

This might be the second flight for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket but it's still a major "first" for the company in a number of ways. Falcon Heavy only has five missions on its manifest so far.