Science & Technology

SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy rocket with world’s highest capacity satellite

Miami, Apr 30 (EFE).- SpaceX launched its powerful Falcon Heavy rocket on Sunday from Cape Canaveral in Florida to put satellites of telecommunications companies ViaSat, Astranis and Gravity Space into orbit.

The 57-minute window for the launch from Pad 39a at the Kennedy Space Center opened at 7:29 pm and liftoff took place exactly one hour later.

Less than five minutes in the air, the two boosters flanking the main rocket separated as planned, followed by the first rocket stage.

The three satellites carried by the Falcon Heavy rocket will reach geostationary orbit, at an altitude of about 35,000 kilometers above the equator, between 4:30 and 5 hours after takeoff.

On Friday, with just 59 seconds to go until liftoff, SpaceX decided to abort the launch of its super rocket for reasons not reported.

Launches on Wednesday and Thursday had also been cancelled due to bad weather conditions in the area.

The main payload for the flight is the ViaSat-3 Americas broadband satellite, weighing about 5,400 kilos and the size of a school bus.

The ViaSat-3 Americas, built by Boeing, is a high-powered spacecraft that will transmit internet signals to rural consumers and passengers on planes and ships in North and South America.

Boeing plans to launch two more satellites of the same class later to cover other areas of the planet. The second is now undergoing environmental testing at Boeing’s facility in El Segundo in California and will be used for communications in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The third ViaSat-3 satellite is now in the final phase of payload integration and testing at the company’s facility in Tempe, Arizona and will focus on the Asia Pacific region, completing Viasat’s global service coverage.

Viasat announced Sunday that the third ViaSat-3 satellite, designed to serve the Asia-Pacific region and called ViaSat 3 APAC, will no longer be launched on Arianespace’s Ariane 6 rocket.

The Ariane 6 rocket, which the European Space Agency and ArianeGroup are developing to replace the Ariane 5, is now scheduled for later this year, after years of delays, and the California company decided to look for a replacement, reported.

Another of the satellites launched on Sunday by the Falcon Heavy was Arcturus from the Astranis, weighing just over 300 kilos and which will provide high-speed connectivity to Alaska and the surrounding region, and the third is GS-1, a cubesat to be operated by Washington-based Gravity Space.

This was Falcon Heavy’s sixth flight since 2018.

It consists of three Falcon 9 rocket cores, each equipped with nine Merlin engines.

According to SpaceX, the Falcon Heavy is considered “one of the world’s most powerful operational rockets” and can lift nearly 64 metric tons into orbit.

The 70-meter-tall, 12-meter-wide rocket completed its first test flight in 2018, when it put a Tesla car into orbit, followed by four other launches, the last of which was with the classified USSF- 67 mission carried out in January this year on behalf of the US Space Force. EFE


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