SpaceX is set to launch the first operational mission of the Falcon Heavy in March. An FCC license filing submitted by the company has revealed the launch from Cape Canaveral will deploy the Arabsat-6A communications satellite.
The Falcon Heavy is not only the largest rocket offered by SpaceX, it is also the largest rocket currently operational. It was launched on its maiden mission on February 6, 2018. The flight carried a test payload that included Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster. The launch was almost perfect with the payload deployed successfully and the two side boosters touching down without incident. However, the rocket’s core stage failed to land safely.
Although SpaceX has yet to confirm a launch date of the Arabsat-6A mission, the FCC documents have indicated it will likely be in March.
The 6,000-kilogram Arabsat-6A communications satellite was developed by Lockheed Martin for the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. A twin of the Arabsat-6A, the HS-4/SGS-1 is set to be launched aboard an Ariane 5 ECA on February 5. According to a Lockheed Martin press release, the satellite will provide, “advanced telecommunications capabilities, including television, internet, telephone and secure military communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.”
In addition to the launch of the Arabsat-6A, a second Falcon Heavy is expected to launch in 2019 with the USAF STP-2 payload. The payload is part of the rocket’s U.S. Air Force EELV certification required after SpaceX won the $130-million AFSPC-52 contact.