SpaceX successfully launches Arabsat 6A

Federico Mansilla
Abril 14, 2019

SpaceX's most powerful rocket - the Falcon Heavy - was primed to send Saudi Arabia's Arabsat-6A telecommunications satellite into orbit Wednesday, but high atmospheric winds forced SpaceXto postpone the launch by 24 hours.

Thursday's launch was SpaceX's second flight with the Falcon Heavy rocket, which had its first demo mission in February 2018.

An unmanned capsule of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft splashes down into the Atlantic Ocean, after a short-term stay on the International Space Station, in this still image from video, in the Atlantic, about 200 miles off the Florida coast, on March 8, 2019.

In its turn, Russian Rocket and Space Corporation Energia announced plans to develop a super-heavy-lift launch vehicle using existing components back in 2016. About eight minutes after liftoff, the rocket's two side boosters came back to nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for simultaneous side-by-side landings.

The satellite was built on a modernized version of Lockheed Martin's A2100 bus with advanced innovations, including propulsion, solar arrays and electronics.

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. Although fairing recovery vessel Mr. Steven is also out and about, the vessel will not be taking part in this launch's recovery efforts after an anomaly earlier this year catastrophically damaged his arms and net, breaking two arms off and resulting in the loss of the net.

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"The Falcons have landed", Musk tweeted.

The Falcon 9 Heavy lifting off from the historic Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Centre. The core booster is shooting for an ocean platform.

The rocket is expected to be used primarily for U.S. military missions, and to launch spy satellites and hefty commercial telecom satellites. By launching the used fairings on their own Starlink missions, SpaceX can effectively demonstrate the validity of this to future customers.

A launch on a Falcon Heavy carries a price tag of $90 million, compared to competitor United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy, which costs more than $300 million.

Almost half an hour after taking off from Cape Canaveral aboard the Falcon Heavy, the satellite separated from the rocket and was placed in a geo-synchronous orbit where it will remain for years.

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