This Is How the Huge Bottom of the Falcon Heavy Looks Like

Pablo Tucker
April 10, 2019

SpaceX will try to land the giant rocket's two side boosters on pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Landing Zone 1 and 2, while the core booster will target the company's "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship off the Atlantic coast.

Elon Musk's SpaceX is preparing to launch Falcon Heavy-its massive, heavy-lift rocket-for the first paying customer on Wednesday, more than a year after a demonstration mission in February 2018.

More than a year after its debut mission, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is ready to send a communications satellite for Saudi Arabia into orbit and attempt to accomplish a triple rocket landing after liftoff. The launch window lasts until 8:32 PM EDT, so there's some wiggle room if the weather is less than ideal. While the agency said it still prefers to use the larger but unfinished Space Launch System rocket, it has openly acknowledged that it now has a (much cheaper) back-up plan.

The payload is the Arabsat 6A communications satellite built by U.S. contractor Lockheed Martin for the Saudi company Arabsat.

Tomorrow's launch follows a plan similar to Falcon Heavy's first test flight previous year. Ranging from multiple sonic booms that will be audible for miles up and down the Florida coast and the potential for a spectacular Florida sunset as a backdrop, Falcon Heavy's second launch will be an event worth watching.

The Block 5 booster is the latest-generation Falcon 9, meant to be reused numerous times with minimal refurbishment.

As is the case with many of SpaceX's launches, the flighty skyward is only half the fun. And with a sticker price of $90 million, it is also about a third of the price of its closest competitor, United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy. The true test will happen tomorrow, if Falcon Heavy cannot only launch but also land its three boosters.

Earlier this month, SpaceX engineers completed the Falcon Heavy Flight 2 by integrating the side boosters into to rocket's core.

Falcon Heavy's debut flight previous year attracted massive attention, in part because CEO Elon Musk chose to launch his own luxury Tesla Roadsteras the test payload. But the middle booster missed a seaborne platform it was created to land on, and instead splashed into the ocean. When Arabsat announced the contracts in 2015, it said at the time that it planned to launch the Arabsat 6A satellite aboard Falcon Heavy.

The Falcon Heavy makes use of the highly successful Falcon 9 design - it's actually composed of three Falcon 9 core stages with a few design tweaks.

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