SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is set to launch today with its very first “real” payload: the Arabsat-6A. The success of this launch could set a precedent for using SpaceX launch vehicles for heavy payloads. Right now, SpaceX is most famous for its Falcon 9 rocket, the reusable orbital booster. However, the Falcon 9 is a smaller, economical vehicle, and cannot carry very heavy payloads to LEO (Lower Earth Orbit.)
The first Falcon Heavy that was launched had Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster as the payload.
Watch the launch live
What is special about SpaceX?
SpaceX is a private rocket company, the first to put a rocket into space and retrieve it again. What sets SpaceX apart is its reusable rocket technology. The SpaceX Falcon 9 is a reusable launch vehicle, that can land vertically in the same orientation that it took-off from, with extraordinary accuracy. This is possible thanks to the very advanced combination of the 9x Merlin-1 engines.
The Falcon Heavy is a combination of 3 Falcon 9 boosters put together. As it has 27 very powerful engines, it can put up to 140,000kg of payload into LEO (Lower Earth Orbit.)
As these rockets are reusable, it cuts down the cost of launches significantly, making SpaceX the best choice for launches.
What is special about this new Falcon Heavy?
The Falcon Heavy that is set to be launched today, has the newer “Block-5” boosters on it. The previous launch had the older boosters. This means that the Falcon Heavy boosters have more thrust, and therefore carry more payload.
The launch date had been delayed slightly, due to weather conditions, but everything seems clear today, so we can expect the launch very soon!
SpaceX will land all three boosters
The first Falcon Heavy launch only landed the 2 side boosters, and SpaceX was unable to land the central booster.
This time SpaceX is going to attempt to land all three boosters!
The side boosters will attempt to land at Cape Canaveral, and the central booster will
What is the Arabsat-6A?
The Arabsat-6A is a telecommunications satellite for customers in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. –SpaceX
It was built on a Lockheed Martin Corp. platform.
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Cover Image Courtesy: SpaceX