Update for April 28th: Now on Friday (April 28), SpaceX is targeting the launch of its sixth Falcon Heavy mission, carrying satellites for Viasat, Astranis, and Gravity Space. The mission has been postponed from April 25, 26 and 27 due to inclement weather at the Pad 39A launch site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff is currently set for 7:29 PM ET (2329 GMT).
SpaceX’s powerful Falcon Heavy rocket will launch for the sixth time ever on Friday (April 28), and you can watch the event live.
The Falcon Heavy is scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 7:29 p.m. EST (2329 GMT) on Friday, loading three satellites into orbit far beyond geostationary orbit.
You can watch the launch live here on Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly through the company (Opens in a new tab).
Related: Elon Musk’s Tesla Falcon Heavy launched the first rocket into space 5 years ago
The primary payload for Friday’s mission is Viasat 3 Americas, a 14,000-pound (6,400-kilogram) large-scale satellite that will be operated by California-based Viasat.
The second satellite to fly by Friday is Arcturus, a communications vehicle that will be operated by San Francisco-based Astranis Space Technologies.
Even though it only weighs 300 kg [660 pounds]the powerful communications satellite has the ability to provide a data transfer rate of up to 7.5 gigabits per second for … Alaska and the surrounding area,” EverydayAstronaut.com wrote (Opens in a new tab) From Arcturus in today’s flight description.
The third payload is the GS-1, cubes that will be operated by Washington-based Gravity Space. GS-1’s primary mission involves providing communications for Internet of Things applications, though it will do some other things in orbit as well.
Gravity Space wrote in a letter Satellite description (Opens in a new tab). “The spacecraft will also carry an imaging system capable of imaging both Earth and spatial objects, as well as a test docking and rendezvous payload.”
The Falcon Heavy consists of three first stages strapped together from the Falcon 9 rocket that powers SpaceX’s workhorse. The central booster mounts an upper stage and the payload(s).
The Falcon Heavy debuted in February 2018 with an unforgettable test flight, sending the Tesla Roadster, founder and CEO of SpaceX Elon Musk, into orbit around the sun with Starman, a mannequin in a spacesuit, at the wheel.
The powerful rocket has flown four more times since then, most recently in January of this year, when it launched a classified USSF-67 mission for the US Space Force.
The Falcon Heavy’s three first-stage boosters are designed to be reusable. However, none of the boosters on today’s mission will be recovered, and presumably they won’t have enough fuel to safely maneuver themselves back to Earth for a vertical descent.
For more than five years, the Falcon Heavy has been SpaceX’s most powerful rocket. But the company’s giant Starship vehicle took that title with its April 20th liftoff, a test flight that reached a maximum altitude of 24 miles (39 kilometers) and ended with a guided blast over the Gulf of Mexico for safety.
The Starship’s 33 first-stage Raptor engines generate 16.7 million pounds of thrust at takeoff, According to SpaceX (Opens in a new tab). That’s three times more than what the Falcon Heavy produces, and almost twice as much as the second-place vehicle, NASA’s Space Launch System rocket.
The launch planned for Friday was postponed several times due to bad weather. An attempt on Thursday (April 27), for example, was canceled, meteorological officials issued Hurricane warnings (Opens in a new tab) to Florida’s Space Coast.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to state that the Starship produces 16.7 million pounds (not tons) of thrust at liftoff.
Mike Wall is the author of “outside (Opens in a new tab)Book (Major Grand Publishing, 2018; illustration by Carl Tate), a book about the search for aliens. Follow him on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab) or Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
“Devoted student. Bacon advocate. Beer scholar. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot. Typical coffee enthusiast.”