SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is set to blast off tonight

Pablo Tucker
April 12, 2019

Falcon Heavy carried a communications satellite for Saudi-based telecom firm Arabsat, which will beam internet and television services over Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

"T plus 33 seconds into flight, under the power of 5.1 million pounds of thrust, Falcon Heavy is headed to space", SpaceX launch commentator John Insprucker said on a livestream.

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


Musk put his own Tesla convertible on last year's demo. In the 2018 test mission, Heavy's core booster missed the vessel and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. It was the first time the company had landed all three boosters for Falcon Heavy. With a combination of reusability, affordability, and performance unlikely to be matched for a minimum of 2+ years, SpaceX and its Falcon Heavy rocket have the opportunity to create an entirely new market in the coming years.

Mission managers are now targeting this evening, again at 6:35 p.m. EDT, with an approximately two-hour launch window.

Because this was an upgraded version of the rocket with unproven changes, SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk cautioned in advance that things might go wrong.


Falcon Heavy has already been chosen for a few contracts, including a $130 million contract to launch an Air Force satellite that was awarded just four months after its inaugural flight in February 2018.

The job was to place the six-ton Arabsat-6A satellite into geostationary orbit about 22,500 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth. As such, this marks the first commercial mission for SpaceX's powerful rocket. It went off without a hitch.

SpaceX typically launches Falcon 9 rockets.


The Roadster is thought to be on the other side of the sun from us right now, about three-quarters of the way around its first solar orbit, said senior analyst at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Jon Giorgini. The boosters can then be refurbished and used again, which SpaceX says drastically reduces the cost of spaceflight. SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, cleared its first unmanned test flight in March ahead of its crewed mission planned for July, while the first unmanned test for Boeing's Starliner capsule is slated for August on ULA's Atlas 5 rocket.

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