Falcon Heavy on the pad for largest commercial communications satellite launch yet – Spaceflight Now
SpaceX rolled a Falcon Heavy to the launch pad early Wednesday morning ahead of its planned launch tonight at 11:04 p.m. EDT (0304 UTC) with the Jupiter 3/EchoStar 24 satellite, the heaviest commercial communications satellite ever launched.
The giant rocket, consisting of three Falcon boosters strapped together with a single upper stage, emerged from its hangar, lying atop the Transporter Erector, at around 1 a.m. EDT (0500 UTC). It was hauled up the ramp to the pad along rails by airport-style tugs and a system of pulleys and cables. It was rotated upright just before 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC). It will be the seventh mission for the Falcon Heavy and the third this year.
The U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral is forecasting an 85 percent chance of acceptable conditions for launch during the 99-minute launch window. SpaceX has a back up opportunity on Thursday but the forecast deteriorates to a 40% chance of acceptable weather.
Nestled in the rocket’s payload fairing is the Jupiter 3/EchoStar 24 satellite, the heaviest commercial communications satellite ever launched. The 9-metric-ton satellite will expand reach of the HughesNet satellite internet service to nearly 80 percent of the population across the Americas. It features 300 spot beams to target coverage and has 500 Gbps of capacity.
Our live coverage of the Falcon Heavy countdown and launch will begin at 10:45 p.m. EDT (0245 UTC).