SpaceX`s Falcon Heavy conducts first commercial flight

Michele Stevens
April 12, 2019

SpaceX carried out its first commercial launch on Thursday with its Falcon Heavy rocket easing a Saudi telecoms satellite into orbit. The second-ever launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket was supposed to happen on Sunday, and then again on Tuesday, and yet again on Wednesday.

The webcast should begin about 20 minutes before the rocket's anticipated liftoff.

The middle booster, after pushing the payload into space, returned almost 10 minutes later for a successful landing on SpaceX's seafaring drone ship 400 miles (645 km) off the Florida coast. The red Roadster - with a mannequin at the wheel - remains in a solar orbit stretching just past Mars.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine last month suggested possibly using a Falcon Heavy - and another company's big rocket - to get the space agency's Orion capsule around the moon, minus a crew, in 2020.

It consists of the equivalent of three Falcon 9 rockets combined, tripling its thrust. As usual, the live stream will include commentary from SpaceX staff, along with details about the mission and status of the spacecraft.

The rocket's side boosters landed at the SpaceX Landing Zones 1 and 2 within seconds of each other, while the center core landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship located in the Atlantic ocean, the company has confirmed.


Musk put his own Tesla convertible on last year's demo.

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.

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. It will include coverage of the landing attempts and satellite deploy.

The job was to place the six-ton Arabsat-6A satellite into geostationary orbit about 22,500 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth.

Though Falcon Heavy's inaugural launch ultimately went off without a hitch, SpaceX will now have to repeat that success with the added risk of carrying a multimillion dollar satellite.

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