SpaceX’s giant Falcon Heavy rocket successfully delivered three satellites to high Earth orbit on April 30. The launch marked the first time that none of the rocket’s boosters were recovered.
Update: May 1, 10:35 a.m. ET: The rocket finally blasted off on Sunday, April 30 at 8:26 p.m. ET. All stages appeared nominal, with the three payloads successfully sent to geostationary Earth orbit. As seen from below, the rocket’s plume put on a spectacular display.
Update: April 30, 6:53 p.m. ET: SpaceX is making another attempt on Sunday at 8:26 p.m. ET. You can catch the action at the feeds below:
Update: 8:35 pm. ET: Today’s launch has been scrubbed, with SpaceX not providing a reason. The countdown clock stopped at T-minus 59 seconds, never to resume again. A launch window exists tomorrow at the same time, so SpaceX may try again on Saturday.
Update: 7:00 p.m. ET: SpaceX is now targeting 8:26 p.m. ET for launch, saying weather is now 70% favorable.
Original article follows.
The Falcon Heavy rocket is scheduled to blast off on Friday, April 28, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the 57-minute launch window opening at 7:29 p.m. ET. You can watch the launch live on SpaceX’s website or through its live feed, available below, which will begin 15 minutes prior to liftoff. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron says there’s about a 30% chance of favorable conditions for the evening launch, which isn’t great. A live feed from
A live feed from NASASpaceflight is also available, and it’s already live:
SpaceX had hoped to launch the rocket yesterday, but a storm blew through, producing hail, tornadoes, and lightning. A lightning bolt even struck the tower at Complex 39A, requiring SpaceX’s ground teams to perform additional checkouts of the rocket, its payloads, and ground equipment, according to a company tweet.
The Falcon Heavy rocket stands 230 feet tall (70 meters) and is composed of three reusable Falcon 9 first stages strapped together. It has two reusable side boosters, a reusable center core, an expendable second stage, and a pair of reusable fairing halves. The heavy-lift vehicle is set to perform its sixth mission, having debuted in 2018.
While Falcon Heavy is more powerful than SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, it may soon be overshadowed by the Starship rocket, which made its first test flight on April 20 but had to be destroyed after it entered a fatal tumble.
The rocket will be carrying three satellites, including the primary payload, the broadband ViaSat-3 Americas satellite, which weighs 14,000 pounds (6,400 kilograms) and will be delivered to a geostationary orbit. The other two satellites, Astranis’s first MicroGEO satellite and Gravity Space’s GS-1 satellite, are also headed for geostationary orbit.
Since the primary payload will be placed directly in its distant orbit, the Falcon Heavy boosters will have to be discarded—they’ll fall into the Atlantic Ocean. Normally, the boosters perform vertical landings, but this job, with that extra push to geostationary orbit, will require them to expel their fuel, making a landing impossible. This will be the first time that SpaceX intentionally disposes of all three Falcon Heavy boosters, according to SpaceflightNow.
Geostationary orbit, or GEO for short, is more than 20,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) above Earth, which is about one-tenth the distance to the Moon. Many communication and weather satellites work in GEO because it allows them to remain in a fixed position relative to the Earth’s surface.
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