Watch live: SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch set for 6:36 p.m. EDT
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., April 9 (UPI) — SpaceX‘s Falcon Heavy launch is set for Wednesday evening, another potential milestone in the company’s development and in the U.S. commercial space industry.
The launch window is scheduled to open at 6:36 p.m. EDT for two hours. Delays or postponements can happen because of weather, technical problems or other issues. A live video will be viewable on this story as soon as SpaceX makes it available, usually shortly before a launch.
The Falcon Heavy is currently the world’s tallest and most powerful rocket in use. The launch also will be the first time a Block 5 booster is used for the big rocket. It’s also the Falcon Heavy’s first commercial payload — the ArabSat 6A communications satellite for the Saudi Arabia company of the same name.
The Block 5 booster is the latest-generation Falcon 9, intended to be reused numerous times with minimal refurbishment. A Falcon Heavy is basically three Falcon 9’s strapped together.
The launch is expected to bring crowds of spectators to the Titusville and Cocoa Beach areas. On the Falcon Heavy’s maiden voyage into space in February 2018, an estimated 100,000 visitors came to watch. That launch was the biggest rocket since the Saturn era ended in the 1970s. It was carrying Elon Musk‘s red Tesla Roadster with the crash dummy Starman at the wheel.
With the second launch of Falcon Heavy, two side boosters will attempt to fly back to twin landing pads at Kennedy Space Center, while the main booster will attempt an ocean barge landing. The boosters are visible from miles around, creating another viewing highlight after the launch itself.
Development of the Falcon Heavy, like all of SpaceX’s missions, has been described by SpaceX founder Elon Musk as a step toward his goal of sending people to Mars.
A launch on a Falcon Heavy carries a price tag of $90 million, compared to competitor United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy, which costs more than $300 million. Falcon Heavy is taller than the shuttle launch rocket was, but carries a little less thrust or power.