SpaceX is getting ready to launch its super heavy-lift rocket for the second time this year, carrying a hefty broadband satellite to a distant orbit above Earth’s equator, as well as a pair of smaller satellites, before being disposed entirely.
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Update: 7:53 p.m. ET: SpaceX scrubbed the launch on account of bad weather. They’ll try again tomorrow.
Original article follows.
The Falcon Heavy rocket is scheduled for liftoff on Thursday during a 57-minute launch window that opens at 7:29 p.m. ET. The rocket will take off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You can watch the launch of the heavy-lift rocket live through SpaceX’s website or by tuning in to the feed below. The live feed is set to begin around 15 minutes before liftoff.
SpaceX has packed its heavy-lift rocket with three satellites. The primary payload is a 14,000-pound (6,400 kilograms) broadband satellite known as ViaSat-3 Americas. Falcon Heavy will be used to deliver the satellite to a geostationary orbit, a circular orbit at an altitude more than 20,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) above Earth.
The satellite will be placed directly in its distant orbit, which means that the rocket’s boosters will have to be expended by falling back down into the Atlantic Ocean; they won’t have enough fuel left to allow them to land vertically on a drone ship. This will be the first time SpaceX intentionally disposes of all three Falcon Heavy boosters, according to SpaceflightNow. Two of the side boosters have launched on previous missions and are being reused for Thursday’s launch.
Falcon Heavy will also be carrying two other satellites: Astranis’s first MicroGEO satellite and Gravity Space’s GS-1 satellite. These two are also headed for geostationary orbit.
The gigantic Falcon Heavy rocket is made up of three reusable Falcon 9 first stages strapped together, standing at 230 feet tall (70 meters). SpaceX’s partially reusable rocket has two reusable side boosters, a reusable center core, an expendable second stage, and a pair of reusable fairing halves. The rocket has had a total of five launches so far, taking off for the first time in 2018.
Falcon Heavy is a more powerful version of Falcon 9, SpaceX’s workhorse rocket that has launched more than 200 times since its debut in 2010. The heavy-lift rocket, however, may be getting upstaged soon by the Starship rocket. The megarocket took off for the first time on April 20 for its inaugural test flight, but had to be destroyed due to it falling into a tumble.
Want to know more about Elon Musk’s space venture? Check out our full coverage of SpaceX’s Starship megarocket and the SpaceX Starlink internet satellite megaconstellation. And for more spaceflight in your life, follow us on Twitter and bookmark Gizmodo’s dedicated Spaceflight page.