11 April, 2019
Forecasters with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing are predicting an 80 percent chance of good launch conditions for the almost two-hour window.
But more importantly, the launch will mark the second ever flight of the incredible Falcon Heavy launch system.
Falcon Heavy's most immediate and tangible impact has been with national security missions.
While this mission is the second flight of a Falcon Heavy, it is the first to use SpaceX's upgraded Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket boosters, which give it a 10% boost in maximum thrust over its predecessor, Musk has said. That's the US Air Force's STP-2 payload, consisting of more than two dozen satellites. The Roadster and its dummy space suited pilot named "Starman" are now headed for the asteroid belt. The launch window opens at 6:35am EDT.
Thousands of people came to SpaceX's launch site in Florida to watch the spectacle.
Part of Falcon Heavy's appeal is the fact that its hardware is reusable. The boosters can then be refurbished and used again, which SpaceX says drastically reduces the cost of spaceflight. During the rocket's first launch in 2018, the side boosters made it, but the center core missed its drone ship landing. The side boosters will touch down at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at SpaceX Landing Zones 1 and 2. SpaceX is expected to attempt to land all three this week. "Built on Lockheed Martin's enhanced LM 2100 platform, Arabsat-6A includes several innovations that provide advanced Ka spot beam communications services and Ku and Ka-band coverages in addition to other frequency bands". Whenever possible, SpaceX plans to launch at lower speeds so they can land and possibly reuse the boosters that make up Falcon Heavy.
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After liftoff and separation, Falcon Heavy's three first-stage boosters will return to Earth for landing. The SpaceX launch window is expected to last around two hours.
Though Falcon Heavy's inaugural launch ultimately went off without a hitch, SpaceX will now have to repeat that success with the added risk of carrying a multimillion dollar satellite.
Falcon Heavy is not expected to fly almost as often as its smaller counterpart, which has completed more than 20 missions since last February.
While putting the Arabsat 6A communications station into orbit was the primary goal of the 34-minute mission, SpaceX engineers hoped to recover the rocket's three Falcon 9 core stages for refurbishment and re-use. Falcon Heavy only has five missions on its manifest so far.