Friday, 19 April, 2019

SpaceX Launches First Commercial Rocket Into Orbit, With Saudi Satellite

This still image from video courtesy of SpaceX shows the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket lifting off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida SpaceX Falcon Heavy sticks the landing in spectacular launch
Sandy Nunez | 12 April, 2019, 07:52

The Falcon Heavy's liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center created a spectacle, just as it did during the maiden launch.

It was the first time the company had landed all three boosters for Falcon Heavy.

A 2018 test already had proven the side boosters could land themselves.

The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in use today.

And smooth it was: All three of the Falcon's rockets guided themselves home once they'd served their objective.

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

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

The rocket is expected to be used primarily for USA 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 said in a tweet that included pictures of all three boosters.

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In Falcon Heavy's first launch, in February 2018, a dummy dubbed Starman was placed behind the wheel of Musk's roadster, which is now orbiting the Sun somewhere between Earth and Mars. That's the only part of the first mission that missed.

Until SpaceX came along, rocket boosters were usually discarded in the ocean after satellite launches.

Elon Musk's Tesla roadster launched from the Falcon Heavy rocket in February 2018 with a dummy driver named Starman. As with past launches, SpaceX livestreamed the launch; the video is available to watch any time below.

However, with Musk's company intent on driving down launch costs by recycling rocket parts, the boosters for this flight may be re-used for future missions.

The satellite SpaceX will launch on Wednesday will update satellite coverage for Arabsat, which is based in Riyadh and delivers hundreds of television channels and radio stations to homes across the Middle East and North Africa.

Arabsat-6A was due for its deployment about a half-hour after launch.

High wind speeds far above the ground were responsible for derailing yesterday's launch, and we won't know for sure whether things are calm enough for a launch until SpaceX makes the call.

Falcon Heavy is not expected to fly almost as often as its smaller counterpart, which has completed more than 20 missions since last February.