How to watch SpaceX Falcon Heavy's historic first commercial launch

Christopher Davidson
April 10, 2019

Elon Musk's SpaceX is preparing to launch Falcon Heavy-its massive, heavy-lift rocket-for the first paying customer on Wednesday, more than a year after a demonstration mission in February 2018. It also carries the Falcon Heavy's first commercial payload - the ArabSat 6A communications satellite for the Saudi Arabia company of the same name. 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. And with a sticker price of $90 million, it is also about a third of the price of its closest competitor, United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy.

A live stream of the launch will be available half an hour before liftoff on SpaceX's YouTube page.

Thunderstorms are an nearly daily occurrence along Florida's Space Coast during Spring and Summer. SpaceX was forced to delay the rocket's launch by one day, following stormy weather conditions over Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Thousands of people came to SpaceX's launch site in Florida to watch the spectacle. As it turns out, the demand was there for a low-priced, heavy lift booster. After takeoff, the rocket's central core stage and two side boosters will aim to return to Earth for a triple landing, The Verge noted. Despite a good first run, the center core unfortunately missed its drone ship landing due to an igniter fluid issue. 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".

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Weather permitting, the Falcon Heavy will take off on its first commercial voyage on Wednesday, April 10. While the agency said it still prefers to use the larger but unfinished Space Launch System rocket, it has openly acknowledged that it now has a (much cheaper) back-up plan.

Musk's casual mentions of a potential explosion spooked Arabsat executives, according to Bloomberg.

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.

More recently, the Falcon Heavy rocket has entered the conversation for human exploration.

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