SpaceX delays Falcon Heavy's first commercial launch of Arabsat-6A to 10 April

The launch will be SpaceX's fourth this year & the first of 2 Falcon Heavy launches in 2019.


SpaceX has moved its plans for the first ever commercial launch using the Falcon Heavy rocket to Wednesday, 10 April at the earliest, provided the weather improves.

The Falcon Heavy will carry the Arabsat-6A satellite owned by Arabsat and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. The launch will be SpaceX's fourth, and the first of two such Falcon Heavy launches in 2019.

While the launch was initially planned for 9 April, weather on the day wasn't conducive for the launch, which has now been moved to 10 April at 10.35 pm GMT (11 April 4.05 am IST).

SpaceX delays Falcon Heavys first commercial launch of Arabsat-6A to 10 April

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy on the launchpad. Image: SpaceX

"Now targeting Falcon Heavy launch of Arabsat-6A on Wednesday, April 10 – weather forecast improves to 80% favorable," SpaceX tweeted in an update on 9 April.

The launch will take place from the historic Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Spaceflight Centre. Once it begins, the launch window will remain open for roughly 2 hours.

Arabsat-6A

Falcon Heavy's payload is the 6,000-kilogram Arabsat-6A communications satellite for Saudi Arabian telecom giant Arabsat. It will be the Falcon Heavy rocket's second flight, and the first commercial one, after the test in February 2018.

Along with the Hellas Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1, the Arabsat-6A satellite under the Arabsat-6G program is the most advanced commercial communications satellites ever built by space technology company Lockheed Martin. It is based on an updated A2100 bus and uses a brand new solar panel technology.

Arabsat-6A undergoing some tests. Image: Lockheed Martin

Arabsat-6A undergoing some tests. Image: Lockheed Martin

Positioned in the geostationary orbit, Arabsat-6A is expected to last 15 years, provide television, internet, telephone, and secure communication services to the Middle East, Africa and Europe, according to Space.com.

The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in the world today. With three first-stage boosters akin to SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, the Falcon Heavy boosters, too, are designed to fly back to Earth and be reusable.

The Falcon Heavy's twin boosters made a simultaneous landing on pads at Cape Canaveral successfully during the test flight last year. The core booster wasn't as successful, missing its landing on the 'Of course, I still love you!' drone ship in the Atlantic by a very short distance.

A live stream of the launch will be available half an hour before liftoff on SpaceX's YouTube page.