SpaceX aces Falcon Heavy launch

Falcon Heavy launches Echostar XXIV from LC-39A (Credit SpaceX)

Falcon Heavy lived up to its name Friday evening as it launched the heaviest geostationary satellite ever.

The 9,200 kg (20,282 lbs) Echostar XXIV (Jupiter 3) satellite was launched at 11:04 p.m. ET (03:04 UTC) from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The satellite was launched to geostationary transfer orbit, and from there, it will use its onboard thrusters to continue its journey to geostationary orbit. The satellite will be able to handle 500+ gigabytes of bandwidth capacity and provide speeds up to 100 megabytes per second. The satellite’s final orbit will be at 95 degrees west latitude and 22,300 miles above the equator over the Americas.

Originally meant to launch on Wednesday, July 26th, the countdown was aborted just over a minute before launch due to a stuck valve and prevented pressurization of a component. SpaceX then took a day, replaced the valve, and launched successfully.

Following launch, the two side boosters separated from the rocket two and a half minutes into the flight, the stages then performed a boost back burn to slow their momentum and accelerate back to the landing zones. The two side boosters performed a single engine entry burn in order to save performance.

While the side boosters performed their boost back burns, the center core and 2nd stage separated, signaling the end of the center core as it needed maximum performance and was expended, eventually making an uncontrolled splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

As the side boosters continued their way to landing zones 1 and 2, they reignited three engines to slow down just before touchdown, marking the 211th and 212th recovery of an orbital class rocket. The side boosters touched down approximately 7 minutes and 51 seconds after lift-off, tying or just barely breaking the record for fastest launch to landing. The Arabsat-6A mission was the previous record holder.

These side boosters will be refurbished and used for a future Falcon Heavy mission. which there could be two more this year, the Psyche mission for NASA and the USSF-52 mission for the U.S. Space Force.

Up next for SpaceX will be Galaxy 37 communications satellite, currently scheduled to launch no earlier than just after midnight local time on August 3rd.

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SpaceX aces Falcon Heavy launch
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