This Is the Future: SpaceX successfully sends Saudi satellite into orbit

Pablo Tucker
December 7, 2019

Well, that was exhilarating.

Liftoff with Heavy's new military-certified Falcon 9 engines was crucial in the race with Boeing-Lockheed venture United Launch Alliance and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin as Musk's SpaceX, working to flight-prove its rocket fleet one mission at a time, aims to clinch a third of all U.S. National Security Space missions - coveted military contracts worth billions. First, the two side boosters separated. If successful, Arabsat will reportedly become the first operator in the region for satellite capacities and services.

Then, the fun began.

The landing happened roughly eight minutes after the rocket took off into orbit and was followed by the core rocket stage landing on a SpaceX droneship in the Atlantic.

The world's most powerful operational rocket completed its first commercial launch on Thursday, bringing a Saudi Arabian telecommunications satellite into the orbit. The upper-level wind shear was unacceptable, and with a poor forecast, it just didn't make sense to load kerosene and oxygen on the rocket.

The Falcon Heavy is created to loft into low-Earth orbit up to 140,000 pounds - more than any American rocket has been able to carry since NASA's Saturn V, which took Apollo astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and '70s. Starman is still out there, by the way, in an elliptical orbit around the Sun. Earth-based telescopes may be able to see him in the early 2020s, certainly no later than 2047.

A Falcon Heavy rocket lofts Arabsat's 6A satellite from Kennedy Space Centre.

"The Falcons have landed", SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.

The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in use today. The side boosters landed nearly simultaneously at Landing Zones 1 and 2, and the center stage came back down shortly after that on the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You".

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

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