SpaceX is ready to launch its sixth Falcon Heavy mission that will deploy ViaSat & Astranis satellites

SpaceX is ready to launch its sixth Falcon Heavy mission that will deploy ViaSat & Astranis satellites

SpaceX is ready to launch its sixth Falcon Heavy mission that will deploy ViaSat and Astranis satellites next week on April 18. The aerospace company has only ever launched the powerful Falcon Heavy rocket five times since 2018 because the heavy-lift vehicle is only required to launch massive payloads to space. It is one of the world's most powerful operational rockets, behind NASA’s Space Launch System, and the third highest capacity launch vehicle ever to reach orbit –following NASA’s Saturn V rocket and Russia’s Energia rocket which are no longer operational. Falcon Heavy consists of three modified Falcon 9 first-stage boosters connected side-by-side, with a total of 27 Merlin 1D engines that are capable of producing 5.1 million pounds of thrust at liftoff.

On April 11, SpaceX shared a photo of the Falcon Heavy rocket that will launch the ViaSat and Astranis mission, rolling out of the hangar at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex-39A. Today, April 13, teams performed a test ignition of the rocket’s 27 Merlin 1D engines to assess performance before liftoff. “Static fire of Falcon Heavy complete; targeting Tuesday, April 18 for launch of ViaSat, Inc’s ViaSat-3 Americas mission from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. The 57-minute launch window opens at 7:29 p.m. ET,” announced SpaceX. NASASpaceflight shared a video of the brief static-fire test, linked below.

The Falcon Heavy rocket is required to launch ViaSat’s gigantic satellite. ViaSat is a telecommunications company that provides internet service to customers globally. The upcoming mission will launch ViaSat’s bus-sized broadband satellite into a high-altitude circular geostationary orbit (GEO) – which is why the company booked a spaceflight aboard SpaceX’s powerful Falcon Heavy. The ViaSat-3 Americas satellite is huge; it is 144 feet when its solar arrays expand and weighs around 6 metric tons (6,400 kilograms). Falcon Heavy is required to propel it into GEO at an altitude of around 35,000 kilometers (km) over Earth’s equator.

Astranis Space Technologies’ Arcturus satellite will hitch-a-ride aboard this mission. The Astranis satellite is much smaller, it weighs 300 kilograms. It is a communications satellite designed to beam data over Alaska and nearby territories. SpaceX will Livestream the deployment of these satellites starting at around 15-minutes before liftoff, a video link will be added when it is available.

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All Featured Images Source: SpaceX 

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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