Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

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

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

The company, which is owned by billionaire Elon Musk, launched its Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This isn't SpaceX's final launch from the Florida-based space center: On April 26, a Falcon 9 rocket will carry a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station (ISS), which is expected to bring more equipment and supplies to the astronauts aboard the habitable artificial satellite. The red Roadster - with a mannequin, dubbed Starman, likely still at the wheel - remains in a solar orbit stretching just past Mars.

A successful lift-off with Falcon Heavy's new military-certified Falcon 9 boosters was a crucial element in the race against Boeing-Lockheed venture United Launch Alliance and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin to secure lucrative military contracts.

Less than eight minutes after take off, the two boosters landed side by side on Cape Canaveral, while the central core stage landed itself one minute later on the drone ship called "Of Course I Still Love You" in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the first commercial launch of the "Heavy" which is boosting the Arabsat 6 Satellite. Even though the primary goal was to put the Arabsat 6A satellite into orbit, SpaceX also had another goal, and that was the recovery of the three booster rockets. With an individual price of $6 million per, SpaceX plans to reuse these in for a Starlink mission at a later date.

Minutes after launch, the two side cores dropped away and descended to make separate touchdowns at two landing zones on the Florida coast, not far from the launch pad.


The Falcon Heavy had been scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday but that was delayed because of strong winds in the upper atmosphere. Shortly after, the rocket's three boosters touched down back on Earth.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted in celebration "The Falcons have landed", with photos of all three recovered boosters.

This is Falcon Heavy's second launch.

"Everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way that we expected it to", Benjamin Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a live stream from California.

Weather in the Atlantic is now about as good as could be expected, with minimal waves and low winds, excellent conditions for the safe recovery of Falcon Heavy's center core - likely B1055 - and Version 2 payload fairing halves.

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