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Historic Arabsat-6A Launch is a Success

14 April 2019

After a day's delay due to strong winds at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Falcon Heavy lifted off at 6:35 p.m. EDT under clear skies and tolerable winds.

Liftoff was scheduled for Wednesday evening from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but SpaceX postponed the launch.

The core booster is set to be captured by the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship floating in the Atlantic Ocean.

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"The Falcons have landed" Musk wrote on Twitter, inaugurating the first successful recovery of all three rocket boosters, which will be refurbished and re-fly in another Falcon Heavy mission this summer to carry a swarm of military and science satellites for the Air Force.

SpaceX's mission was to deploy Arabsat-6A, a high-capacity telecommunications satellite that will deliver television, radio, Internet and mobile communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, according to a press kit.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk warned in advance things might go wrong, given the upgraded version of the rocket with unproven changes. The Falcon Heavy is touted as the world's most powerful rocket "by a factor of two and will only be succeeded by NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) when completed". The company launched the rocket on a test mission previous year. It will be just the second time a Falcon Heavy soars. SpaceX already has another Falcon Heavy launch planned for June, a US Air Force mission called STP-2 that consists of dozens of small satellites.

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Minutes after launch, the two side cores dropped away and descended to make separate touchdowns at two landing zones on the Florida coast, not far from the launch pad. To recall, this was the same rocket that launched a Tesla into space in 2018. The boosters for that flight may be recycled from this one.

Bridenstine said everything is on the space table as NASA strives to meet the White House's goal of landing astronauts back on the moon by 2024.

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 taller than the shuttle launch rocket was, but carries a little less thrust or power.

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Historic Arabsat-6A Launch is a Success