With all the hype surrounding the successful launch, docking, and return of the Crew Dragon capsule, and the upcoming tests of the Starhopper, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that SpaceX has other projects in the works as well. The Falcon Heavy, which originally launched just over a year ago, is just about ready for its second trip skyward, but it might take a miracle for SpaceX to meet its current launch window.
Falcon Heavy’s second launch was supposed to happen shortly after its first, but had to be repeatedly pushed back from March 2018 to late 2018 and then finally early 2019. The company is excruciatingly close to being ready for the big day, but its current projected launch dates of April 7th or 8th are looking increasingly unrealistic.
Right now, SpaceX is expecting to static fire its rocket today. That was supposed to happen on March 31st, but now that it’s been pushed back by several days, it’s likely that the actual launch will also see a relatively short delay.
SpaceX’s second Falcon Heavy rocket has arrived at launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for a hold-down engine test-firing later today. https://t.co/1JVNLYO4Hg pic.twitter.com/pHAFonDDyv
— Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) April 4, 2019
In late March, SpaceX planned on a static fire test of the rocket on March 31st and then a seven-day turnaround to get the rocket ready for flight, putting the launch on April 7th. Assuming SpaceX plans on firing the rocket today, it’s highly unlikely that the rocket could be made ready for launch in just three days, even if everything goes perfectly.
In any case, the Falcon Heavy will definitely be ready for its second trip sooner rather than later, and even if it slips out of its April 7th launch window it’ll likely only be a delay of a few days.
Unlike its first Falcon Heavy launch, which was largely just a demonstration that SpaceX could pull off a heavy-lift vehicle, this launch will include a payload from a client. Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat needs SpaceX to deliver its Arabsat 6A communications satellite into orbit. Once it’s sent into space it will expand communication coverage in parts of Africa and the Middle East.