The SpaceX launch will deliver a communications satellite payload into orbit for the Saudi Arabian company Arabsat. SpaceX pencilled in a launch window opportunity for the Falcon Heavy from Sunday, April 7, at 11.36pm BST (10.36pm UTC). The rocket launch will mark the first commercial flight for the powerful SpaceX rocket after it debuted on February 6, 2018. The Falcon Heavy left its mark on history last year when SpaceX CEO Elon Musk strapped a cherry-red sports car to the rocket.
The Falcon Heavy will now blast off again from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida but with a much less glamorous payload.
The Arabsat 6A launch was initially expected to take off in the fourth quarter of 2018 but the launch was struck with delays.
The communications satellite was constructed by US contract Lockheed Martin for the Saudi satellite operator.
If successful, SpaceX will place the spacecraft at a height of more than 22,000 miles (36,000km) above the Earth’s equator.
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However, before SpaceX can safely send the payload into orbit, the rocket manufacturer will need to test fire the Falcon Heavy’s new Block 5 booster configuration.
SpaceX’s static fire tests where the rocket does not take off from the ground typically take place around a week before the actual launch.
The Block 5 test is currently expected to take place on Monday, April 1.
The Block 5 is the next generation of reusable Falcon 9 booster rockets, powered by an incredible array of Merlin engines.
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The rockets feature more power, better heat-shields and an increased lift capacity when compared to its Falcon 9 predecessors.
In May 2018, Elon Musk teased the rocket has a much “stronger” structure than previous models.
He said: “I don’t want to tempt fate but this is a much stronger octaweb structure.
“It’s made of a much higher strength of bolted aluminium. A 7000 series instead of a 2000 series. So the strength of the octaweb is dramatically greater.
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“It also has quite a bit of thermal protection in case there’s say, an engine fire or something like that. Such that it does not melt the octaweb.”
Overall, the Falcon Heavy consists of three sets of Falcon 9 rockets, with nine rocket engines each.
This means the Falcon Heavy is powered by a total of 27 Merlin rocket engines.
The Falcon Heavy launch will be keenly watched by the US Air Force.
A spokesman told Spaceflight Now: “This provides an early opportunity for the Air Force to understand the process for using previously-flown hardware with the goal to open future EELV missions to reusable launch vehicles.”