July 19, 2019 | 5:55 AM IST
science

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket successfully launched

The most powerful vehicle flying today, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket recently launched its first mission from Kennedy Space Centre, Florida. The mega rocket blasted off at 6.35 PM EDT and about 34 minutes later the rocket deployed Arabsat-6A, an advanced communications satellite. The satellite will provide internet and communications services to residents in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Europe.

A prior to its launch, the Falcon was delayed by 24-hours due to poor weather at the launch pad. The SpaceX made the transition to Block 5 for its Falcon 9 flights in May, after the demo flight of Falcon Heavy in February 2018. In addition to the added thrust, the Block 5 Falcon 9 now features a plethora of upgrades, all of which are designed to facilitate reusability. The earlier versions of the Falcon 9 were meant to fly only two to three times, but Block 5 is capable of flying as many as 10 times with virtually no refurbishment between flights.

Falcon Heavy now boasts of two spaceflights – first being the mission launched on Feburary 6, 2018, ferrying Elon Musk's cherry-red Tesla Roadster — with a spacesuit-wearing test dummy named Starman sitting in the driver's seat — into orbit. The nearly flawless first launch, which included successful landings by two of the Falcon Heavy's three first-stage boosters, earned SpaceX major accolades.

SpaceX is ready to forge ahead with a steady schedule of launches. The next Falcon Heavy flight, due to launch this year, will carry the Space Test Program 2 mission for the U.S. Air Force and a solar-sail mission for The Planetary Society.

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