Falcon Heavy Launch Lofts Arabsat-6A and Achieves Historic Triple Rocket Landing

Jan Cross
April 15, 2019

The version of the Falcon Heavy that will fly this week will not be exactly the same as the previous mission: The Falcon Heavy's rocket cores will be more powerful, making use of upgrades to SpaceX's smaller workhorse rocket, the Falcon 9.

The rocket was launching a satellite into orbit for Saudi Arabian company Arabsat. Last year's test flight put a sports car-Musk's own Tesla convertible-into space.

This isn't SpaceX's final launch from the Florida-based space center: On April 26, a Falcon 9 rocket will carry a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station (ISS), which is expected to bring more equipment and supplies to the astronauts aboard the habitable artificial satellite.

Arabsat-6A is a Saudi Arabian communications satellite that is created to serve the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

SpaceX tweeted: "Successful deployment of Arabsat-6A to geosynchronous transfer orbit confirmed-completing Falcon Heavy's first commercial mission!" But even more spectacularly, all three stages of the rocket successfully returned to Earth just minutes after launch, proving the Flacon Heavy's reliability.

What is all the more awesome about this engineering effort, however, is that the world's largest rocket does not just launch into space.

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Development of the Falcon Heavy, like all of SpaceX's missions, has been described by SpaceX founder Elon Musk as a step toward his goal of sending people to Mars.

SpaceX and Boeing Co are vying to send humans to space from United States soil for the first time in almost a decade under NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Falcon Heavy is taller than the shuttle launch rocket was, but carries a little less thrust or power.

Make sure you don't miss the rapturous applause from SpaceX's mission control.

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying a communication satellite lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, April 11, 2019. The auto, which was carrying a space-suited mannequin nicknamed Starman, was vaulted into outer space and is expected to orbit the sun for the foreseeable future. The satellite was deployed into orbit 34 minutes after launch.

A couple dozen ground telescopes kept tabs on the vehicle during its first several days in space, but it gradually faded from view as it headed out toward the orbit of Mars, Giorgini noted. However, this time, the center core also landed on a drone ship at sea, meaning that SpaceX recovered the entirety of its first stage.

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