Falcon Heavy sends first commercial satellite into orbit

Pablo Tucker
April 14, 2019

As with the first launch of the Falcon Heavy, SpaceX will try to safely land the two side rocket boosters back at Cape Canaveral Landing Zones 1 and 2 in Florida.

There will be another chance to catch the spectacular landing sequence happen again on April 26, when SpaceX and NASA launch the Falcon 9 rocket on a Dragonfly mission to resupply the International Space Station.

Enlarge / The Falcon Heavy fires its 27 engines on the way to space.

SpaceX aims to land two of the first-stage boosters back at Cape Canaveral, just like it did for the rocket's debut a year ago.

Arabsat certainly had reasons to be cheerful, but so did satellite builder Lockheed Martin given that its LM2100 version's second flight had been upgraded with more than 20 significant modifications including new avionics and solar arrays.

About 34 minutes after liftoff, the shiny silver satellite was successfully deployed.

SpaceX plans to launch its next Falcon Heavy later this year on a mission for the U.S. Air Force.

Its successful landing of the center core from a Falcon Heavy is a relief for SpaceX after a similar attempt ended in disaster a year ago.

The rocket is expected to be used primarily for United States military missions, and to launch spy satellites and hefty commercial telecom satellites. But the middle booster missed a seaborne platform it was created to land on, and instead splashed into the ocean.

"The Falcons have landed", Musk tweeted. The company selected Falcon Heavy in September for a mission anticipated in late 2017 or 2018.

"Everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way that we expected it to", Benjamin Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a live stream from California. But the preferred method remains NASA's own Space Launch System mega rocket - if it can be ready by then.

The rocket will be able to lift 64 tons into orbit, doubling the lift capacity of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost, the company said. The Falcon Heavy is essentially three of those single rockets strapped together.

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