SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket will make its second flight Wednesday, carrying its first customer payload – the Arabsat-6A communications satellite. Falcon will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center during a one hour, 57-minute window that opens at 18:35 Eastern Time (23:35 UTC), taking a little over 34 minutes to deploy its payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Wednesday’s launch comes fourteen months after Falcon Heavy made its successful maiden flight, sending founder and CEO Elon Musk’s old Tesla Roadster car into an interplanetary trajectory in lieu of using a more traditional demonstration payload.
The Roadster launch proved the Falcon Heavy design in flight, demonstrating that the rocket could deliver more valuable payloads to orbit. Wednesday’s launch sees the rocket entrusted with an advanced telecommunications satellite for Saudi Arabian operator Arabsat.
Arabsat-6A was constructed by Lockheed Martin. It is built around the LM2100 satellite bus, a modernized version of the company’s successful A2100 platform. Arabsat announced that it had contracted Lockheed Martin to build the satellite in April 2015, along with a second satellite: HellasSat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1. HellasSat-4/SGS-1 was successfully deployed by an Ariane 5ECA rocket in February.
The Arabsat-6A satellite has a dry mass of 3,520 kilograms (7,980 pounds), but fully fuelled ...