The Strategist

SpaceX launches the third Falcon Heavy

06/25/2019 - 12:22

With a delay of three hours, SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket with 24 satellites and 152 ash capsules. Elon Musk called this launch the most difficult in the company’s history.

SpaceX, private space company of billionaire Elon Musk, launched the Falcon Heavy rocket with 24 research satellites and 152 ash urns on Tuesday. The launch was broadcasted live on SpaceX YouTube channel.

The start was postponed for three hours. SpaceX had a four hours gap, which allowed the company to shift the launch.

The reasons for the delay are not specified, but SpaceX's Twitter notes that the experts “completed an additional verification of the ground systems, the rocket and the cargo look good.” The weather forecast at the time of launch promised only a 20% chance of canceling the start due to weather conditions.

Elon Musk called this launch the most difficult in the entire history of the company for a number of reasons. The Falcon Heavy launch vehicle will carry out the STP-2 mission for the US military. The payload of the most powerful of all modern launch vehicles includes 24 research satellites owned by the US Air Force, NASA, private companies, foreign customers and universities. Among them is the satellite Lightsail 2, equipped with a sail to move without using conventional fuel. The rocket will also deliver an atomic clock into orbit, which will help guide spacecraft to distant objects of the Solar System, and capsules with ashes of 152 deceased, including scientists and NASA staff.

Falcon Heavy will load cargo into three different orbits and conduct maneuvers in orbit. SpaceX plans to simultaneously land two Falcon Heavy accelerators back to earth, and then return the first stage of the rocket, landing it on a platform in the ocean about 770 miles from Cape Canaveral, from where the launch was made. The whole mission will take about six hours.

The first Falcon Heavy launch took place in February 2018 when Musk sent his cherry-red Tesla Roadster into space. In April 2019, SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy for the first commercial client, Saudi Arabia’s satellite operator Arabsat.

This is the third launch for Falcon Heavy. As noted by Bloomberg, it will be an important episode in the company’s struggle with the United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin,. ULA is building a new rocket called the Vulcan, which will compete with the Falcon Heavy. The BE-4 Vulcan engine was built by Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin.