Falcon Heavy Launch Paves the Way for Starlink and Air Force Satellites

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April 23, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: April 23 on

Falcon Heavy has flown its first commercial mission, and there’s plenty more where that came from.

The world’s most powerful operational rocket sent up the Arabsat-6A communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Thursday, demonstrating its commercial viability following its test launch in February 2018. SpaceX successfully landed all three cores, paving the way for their reuse in future missions.

A big draw of the Falcon Heavy is its cheap launch cost compared to its power. While a standard launch for the Falcon 9 cost $62 million in 2018, the company’s website states that the Falcon Heavy costs just $90 million per launch for around triple the power. This figure rises to $150 million when using a fully expendable variant. It’s incredible savings when compared to the Delta IV, estimated to cost $350 million per launch despite packing only half the liftoff thrust.

The vehicle is comprised of 27 Merlin engines spread out over three cores, roughly equivalent to three

Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, offering over five million pounds of liftoff thrust. That means while the rocket has the same 12-foot diameter and 230-foot height as its smaller brother, the Falcon Heavy’s 40-foot width means it looks far wider. The whole thing weighs a staggering 3.1 million pounds. By comparison, the Falcon 9 weighs just 1.2 million pounds.

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