A year after 'Starman,' SpaceX ready for second Falcon Heavy launch

Olive Hawkins
April 10, 2019

SpaceX will try to land the giant rocket's two side boosters on pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Landing Zone 1 and 2, while the core booster will target the company's "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship off the Atlantic coast.

"Static fire of Falcon Heavy complete-targeting April 9 launch of Arabsat-6A from Launch Complex 39A in Florida", tweeted SpaceX.

"Arabsat-6A is a high-capacity telecommunications satellite that will deliver television, radio, Internet and mobile communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe", SpaceX representatives wrote in a mission description.

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If the weather holds and there are no technical issues, Falcon Heavy will rumble aloft at 6:35 p.m. Florida time on Wednesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

All of SpaceX's rocket launches are streamed live online via the company's website and official YouTube page. The payload for the mission is the Arabsat-6A communications satellite which was built by Lockheed Martin off of the A2100 satellite bus. Aside from being the last major source of data for the ultimate certification of Falcon Heavy for high-value military launches, the USAF hopes that STP-2 will be a critical step towards opening the doors of launch contract competitions to flight-proven rockets like Falcon 9 and - eventually - Blue Origin's New Glenn. The side boosters are already scheduled for re-use in June on another Falcon Heavy flight. Planetary scientists have also said the rocket's mere existence has put price pressure on other boosters typically used for deep space probes. But on Friday, SpaceX announced the launch was delayed until Tuesday. It's a particularly notable one, being Falcon Heavy's second flight ever and the very first commercial launch for the gargantuan launch vehicle.

Falcon Heavy is not expected to fly almost as often as its smaller counterpart, which has completed more than 20 missions since last February. During it, the rocket carried Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster into space. With three first-stage boosters akin to SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, the Falcon Heavy boosters, too, are created to fly back to Earth and be reusable. The center core missed its drone ship landing when two of three engines ran out of igniter fluid. Despite the satellite weighing no less than 6000 kg (13,200 lb), Falcon Heavy will still have enough latent performance to attempt the recovery of all three of its new Block 5 boosters.

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