SpaceX`s Falcon Heavy conducts first commercial flight
12 April, 2019, 07:55 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
For SpaceX, the addition of the large and reusable Falcon Heavy to its launch business gives the company the ability to bid on heavier payloads than it can with the smaller Falcon 9 rocket, opening up the market for big commercial satellites launches and national security missions. It will be just the second time a Falcon Heavy soars.
The webcast should begin about 20 minutes before the rocket's anticipated liftoff. With only one successful Falcon Heavy launch under its belt, SpaceX would rather not have to delay this second flight again, but safety is a top priority. The red Roadster - with a mannequin, dubbed Starman, likely still at the wheel - remains in a solar orbit stretching just past Mars.
A standard Falcon Heavy launch costs $90 million, according to the company's website, compared to $62 million for the Falcon 9.
Falcon Heavy's debut flight past year attracted massive attention, in part because CEO Elon Musk chose to launch his own luxury Tesla Roadster as the test payload. Although SpaceX has made "many good design improvements" from the rocket that launched 14 months ago, Musk said there is a 5 to 10 percent chance of failure with this mission.
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The YouTube window below will go live shortly before the launch window opens, assuming SpaceX doesn't push it back at the last minute. That's the only part of the first mission that missed. Following the launch, SpaceX will attempt to simultaneously return the two side boosters to landing pads and land the center core on a drone ship. But the middle booster missed a seaborne platform it was created to land on, and instead splashed into the ocean.
Since then, the United States military and private clients have signed contracts for Falcon Heavy launches, and NASA has raised the possibility it may use the rocket for its planned missions to the Moon.
The U.S. Air Force tapped SpaceX in 2018 to launch for $130 million a classified military satellite and in February added three more missions in a $297 million contract. When Arabsat announced the contracts in 2015, it said at the time that it planned to launch the Arabsat 6A satellite aboard Falcon Heavy.
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.
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Media outlets in Central Florida report sonic booms could potentially be heard in Brevard, Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties. The rocket was purchased to launch the Arabsat 6A communications station for the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat consortium.
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Defence officials said its pilot signalled the need to abort the mission shortly before the plane was lost. The last time this happened the plane crashed near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina.
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