The payload for the mission is the Arabsat-6A communications satellite which was built by Lockheed Martin off of the A2100 satellite bus. In June, only a little more than four months after the vehicle's debut flight, the U.S. Air Force certified the rocket to fly its reconnaissance and communications satellites into orbit.
"Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars".
A year after launching a Tesla roadster into deep space, a second SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket was hauled to the pad and erected Wednesday, setting the stage for an early evening launch to boost a heavyweight Saudi communications satellite into orbit.
This time around, Falcon Heavy will be made entirely out of Block 5 hardware, including three new boosters (likely B1052, B1053, and B1055), a Block 5 upper stage with a Merlin Vacuum engine, and a recovery-optimized "Version 2" payload fairing. The Roadster and its dummy space suited pilot named "Starman" are now headed for the asteroid belt.
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The rocket, carrying a Saudi Arabian communications satellite, is set to lift off at 6:35 p.m. tonight from Kennedy Space Center with a almost two-hour window.
Thousands of people came to SpaceX's launch site in Florida to watch the spectacle. These boosters will later be refurbished and re-used, which SpaceX says drastically reduces the cost of spaceflight. After takeoff, the rocket's central core stage and two side boosters will aim to return to Earth for a triple landing, The Verge noted. After booster separation, the two side boosters will attempt to land at SpaceX's two landing zones at Cape Canaveral Air Force base in Florida. Despite a good first run, the center core unfortunately missed its drone ship landing due to an igniter fluid issue.
The Arabsat 6A that will depart Earth this week, on the other hand, will stick around in orbit, providing Ku-band and Ka-band communications coverage for the Middle East, North and South Africa. When Arabsat announced the contracts in 2015, it said at the time that it planned to launch the Arabsat 6A satellite aboard Falcon Heavy.
SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, set a company record past year with 21 launches for customers.
The potential market should only increase as Falcon Heavy demonstrates more success. A Falcon Heavy is basically three Falcon 9's strapped together. Falcon Heavy only has five missions on its manifest so far.