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Gallery: Falcon Heavy with Arabsat-6A - Hard as thunder, light as rain

14 April 2019

This flight followed the first Falcon Heavy test launch in 2018 and involved the Arabsat-6A, a Saudi Arabian communications satellite.

Above: Arabsat 6A and Falcon Heavy by SpaceX, prepared for launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, 11th April 2019.

During Falcon Heavy Flight 1, the rocket's center core - B1032 - was destroyed when a failure to reignite its landing Merlin 1D engines resulted in the booster slamming into the ocean at more than 300 miles per hour (~500 km/h).

SpaceX tweeted: "Successful deployment of Arabsat-6A to geosynchronous transfer orbit confirmed-completing Falcon Heavy's first commercial mission!"

The Thursday April 11 launch marked the first flight of the 230-foot-tall (about 70 meters) rocket with the payload from a paying customer.

The satellite is created to provide television, internet, telephone, and secure communications to customers in the Middle East.

A Falcon Heavy launch costs $90 million while the price tag for the Delta IV Heavy provided by the United Launch Alliance is considerably steeper at $500 million.

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SpaceX might end up re-using these very same boosters for an U.S Air Force Falcon Heavy mission, set to take place later this year. Then came SpaceX's successful commercial mission into space.

"Three for three boosters today", a SpaceX webcast commentator said.

In its response, Russia's rocket and space corporation energia had announced its plans to build a super-heavy-lift launch vehicle with help of existing components in 2016. It's been over a year since SpaceX sent Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster to space. It's nearly certainly still in orbit around the sun with a mannequin at the wheel.

Blasting off from the historic Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Centre at 4.05 am early this morning, the spacecraft deployed its Arabsat-6A satellite payload and successfully returned to Earth (it didn't blow up).

SpaceX set a company record previous year with 21 launches for customers. Featuring three brand new Block 5 boosters, this mission also has the potential to redeem a slight anomaly that caused Falcon Heavy Flight 1's center core to be destroyed during a recovery attempt.

The middle booster, after pushing the payload into space, returned almost 10 minutes later for a successful landing on SpaceX's seafaring drone ship waiting 645 kilometres off the Florida coast.

Gallery: Falcon Heavy with Arabsat-6A - Hard as thunder, light as rain