SpaceX Successfully Launches the Arabsat-6A Satellite and Lands Three Boosters


Less than 10 minutes into the flight, the rocket's three boosters detached from the Falcon Heavy on schedule.

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch of the Arabsat-6A satellite at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Thursday evening was successful.

Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat announced plans to launch with SpaceX in spring 2015, but at the time hadn't decided between the Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy. "Three for three boosters today on Falcon Heavy, what an unbelievable accomplishment". Last year's test flight put a sports vehicle - Musk's own Tesla - convertible into space.

Then, at around nine minutes after takeoff, the core booster landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which is stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

This time around, the payload was the 13,200-pound Arabsat-6A satellite, which is destined to go into geostationary orbit to provide telecommunications services to the Middle East, Africa and Europe through the Saudi-led Arabsat consortium. Their return was heralded by a fusillade of sonic booms.

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With a combination of reusability, affordability, and performance unlikely to be matched for a minimum of 2+ years, SpaceX and its Falcon Heavy rocket have the opportunity to create an entirely new market in the coming years. SpaceX employees at company headquarters in Southern California cheered every launch milestone and especially the three touchdowns. That mission was more of a test than anything else, with head man Elon Musk deciding to send his own Tesla as the rocket's payload.

However, with Musk's company intent on driving down launch costs by recycling rocket parts, the boosters for this flight may be re-used for future missions.

In Falcon Heavy's first launch, in February 2018, a dummy dubbed Starman was placed behind the wheel of Musk's roadster, which is now orbiting the Sun somewhere between Earth and Mars.

After the 2018 Falcon Heavy launch, the center core missed the drone ship when only one of three engines ignited for the final landing burn. The U.S. Air Force also chose Falcon Heavy for STP-2, its Space Test Program 2 mission.

Until SpaceX came along, rocket boosters were usually discarded in the ocean after satellite launches.