SpaceX successfully launched Falcon Heavy rocket for second time

More than a year after the maiden flight, SpaceX has successfully launched the Falcon Heavy rocket for a second time. This was the first commercial mission to launch the 6000kg Saudi communications satellite Arabsat 6A into geostationary orbit.

Just after midnight, the Falcon Heavy successfully launched from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. About 34 minutes later, the satellite Arabsat 6a successfully disconnected of the upper rocket stage, which successfully completed the mission. The launch should have taken place a few days earlier, but it was postponed twice due to bad weather.

Just like the first launch, which at the time only saw a Tesla Roadster with a doll named Starman go into space, the two side boosters are successful and Landed vertically almost completely synchronously on launch pads in Florida. The middle booster is successful Landed vertically on the drone ship called ‘Of Course I Still Love You’, which was located in the Atlantic Ocean. The latter went wrong in February last year, when the middle core crashed into the sea at too high a speed; that was due to an insufficient amount of ignition fluid.

With the collection of these three boosters, SpaceX was not there yet, because there is also the expensive fairing. That is in fact the nose cone of the rocket in which the cargo is carried. Its two halves fall back to Earth. SpaceX has tried to catch the fairing at several Falcon 9 launches in the past, for example with a large safety net on a boat, but that has often failed. The Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight also went wrong. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the company is here this time, however, has been successful in. Both halves are by means of GPS controlled parachutes landed in the sea, have been pulled from the water by two ships and will be re-deployed on a Starlink mission later this year, where SpaceX will once again launch a portion of its Internet satellites into low Earth orbit. It is the first time that SpaceX will use the fairing again. This would save the company about $6 million in costs.

Compared to the first flight in February 2018, a number of innovations have been made, such as the newer boosters of the Block5 version. The three boosters with a total of 27 rocket motors produced about ten percent more thrust than the first Falcon Heavy. Furthermore, the necessary upgrades have been made to improve the reusability. The Falcon Heavy boosters, also used for the Falcon 9, previously had a lifespan of a maximum of two or three launches, but according to Musk, that should be able to be increased to ten flights with the Block 5, with hardly any replacement. To achieve this, the rocket engines have been improved, the connection piece between the upper and middle core has been strengthened and a renewed heat protection system has been applied.