SpaceX Successfully Launches the Arabsat-6A Satellite and Lands Three Boosters


The Falcon Heavy launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 6:35 p.m. EDT, carrying the Arabsat-6A communications satellite in its payload.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy has twice the power and costs about one third as much as United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy.

SpaceX plans to refly the Falcon Heavy side boosters from the Arabsat-6A mission on its next Falcon Heavy mission, the U.S. Air Force Space Test Program-2 rideshare mission. The rocket can lift nearly 141,000lbs into orbit, which is more than double the Delta IV Heavy, the next closest operational vehicle. The roads were also jammed for Wednesday night's launch attempt, which was scuttled by high wind.

Falcon Heavy Block 5 lifts off for the first time, April 11th.

Until SpaceX came along, boosters were discarded in the ocean after satellite launches. Last year's test flight put a sports vehicle - Musk's own Tesla - convertible into space.

In Falcon Heavy's first launch, in February 2018, a dummy dubbed Starman was placed behind the wheel of Musk's roadster, which is now orbiting the Sun somewhere between Earth and Mars.

Because this was an upgraded version of the rocket with unproven changes, SpaceX chief Elon Musk cautioned in advance things might go wrong. As with past launches, SpaceX livestreamed the launch; the video is available to watch any time below.

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Part of Falcon Heavy's appeal is the fact that its hardware is reusable.

"The Falcons have landed", Musk said in a tweet that included pictures of all three boosters.

The Falcon Heavy central core booster lands on a drone ship stationed hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic Ocean.

The satellite aims to provide communications to people in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

Lockheed Martin built the satellite, along with a second one, for Arabsat as part of a batch of contracts worth $650 million.

SpaceX also accomplished a new first on this mission, that of successfully recovering all three Falcon Heavy boosters. The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in use today, with 27 engines firing at liftoff - nine per booster. The company selected Falcon Heavy in September for a mission anticipated in late 2017 or 2018.