Twice delayed SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch set for Wednesday


Crews positioned the Falcon Heavy vertically ahead of launch from LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy will launch the Arabsat-6A satellite from Launch Complex 39Z (LC-39Z) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

But in the 14 months since the large rocket's inaugural flight, Falcon Heavy has had a remarkable effect on the nation's space policy. 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. The Falcon Heavy Launch will be streamed live on SpaceX's webcast page approximately 20 minutes before liftoff.

Introducing a new ultra-powerful rocket has allowed SpaceX to compete directly with arch rival United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, for lucrative government contracts that require heavy-lift launch vehicles. With three first-stage boosters akin to SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, the Falcon Heavy boosters, too, are created to fly back to Earth and be reusable.

The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in the world, a necessity for bringing payloads to space successfully. It's been made even more powerful since last year's demo flight through upgrades that SpaceX refers to as Block 5, which were applied to the company's smaller Falcon 9 rocket starting in May. The two strapped to the main booster are created to break apart and land back on Earth.

After the procedure concluded in the hangar, the rocket was rolled onto the pad for a static test fire ahead of the launch of the Arabsat 6A satellite on April 9.

Around 2-3 minutes after take-off, the two reusable side boosters will separate from the center core before attempting to land at SpaceX's landing Zones 1 and 2 at Cape Canaveral. In December, Falcon 9 B1051 suffered an unrelated failure with the hydraulic pump system that controls its titanium grid fins, causing the new Block 5 booster to land softly in the Atlantic Ocean, missing LZ-1 by a few miles.

At the time of its launch, SpaceX chief Elon Musk said he wasn't sure how the start would go or whether it would be successful.

SpaceX has previously landed 12 first-stage boosters on land and 23 at sea.

The Arabsat 6A that will depart Earth this week, on the other hand, will stick around in orbit, providing Ku-band and Ka-band communications coverage for the Middle East, North and South Africa. That's the US Air Force's STP-2 payload, consisting of more than two dozen satellites. Falcon Heavy only has five missions on its manifest so far.