After years of delays, a group of NASA technology demonstration payloads is finally set to lift off on a Falcon Heavy later this month.
SpaceX sent the Arabsat-6A communications satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit April 11, completing the Falcon Heavy rocket’s first commercial launch.
Arabsat chose SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket to launch its newest satellite in order to give the satellite a longer lifespan, Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat’s chief executive, said in an interview with SpaceNews.
Falcon Heavy’s first commercial launch to pave the way for reusable rockets in national security missions
The data from the Arabsat 6A mission could determine how soon the Air Force will be ready to certify reused boosters.
NASA hopes to get two long-delayed space science missions launched in the first few months of 2019, one of which will go on one of two back-to-back Falcon Heavy missions.
Swedish startup Ovzon, which in October bought a Falcon Heavy launch from SpaceX, has now purchased a satellite for that mission from Maxar Technologies’ Space Systems Loral division.
Switching from SLS to the Falcon Heavy may cause some trade-offs in designing both the Europa Clipper and the Europa Lander to fit the smaller rocket. However, the cost savings could be plowed into an Enceladus orbiter.
The Falcon Heavy beat United Launch Alliance’s Delta 4 in a competition under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.
SpaceX plans to significantly expand its footprint at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, a sign that its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets will play a key role for the company for years to come even as it develops a more powerful vehicle.
SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy launch with a commercial satellite is scheduled to occur around the end of the year, according to customer Arabsat.
The recent amazing success of the Falcon Heavy launch offers America an unprecedented opportunity to break the stagnation that has afflicted its human spaceflight program for decades. In short, the moon is now within reach.
The recent launch boom on Florida’s Space Coast is creating some headaches for the companies involved, as well as for NASA and the U.S. Air Force.