Arabsat 6A, a 6,460kg communications satellite built by Lockeed Martin, was sent safely on its way by a Falcon Heavy launch via its injection to its 89,808 x 321km super-synchronous transfer orbit. The launch took place from the Kennedy Space Centre launch site, near Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 2235 GMT on 11 April 2019.
This was the second flight of the Falcon Heavy. While the previous publicity generating launch successfully put SpaceX supremo Elon Musk’s Telsa roadster around the Sun, it only managed to land its two reusable boosters back at Cape Canaveral. The attempt to land its reusable core first stage on a drone ship failed.
This flight was – at first sight – more fortunate. Both the side boosters managed to land back at the LZ-1 and LZ-2 landing sites back on land at Cape Canaveral, while the core booster managed to safely land on the Of Course I Still Love You drone barge down range in the Atlantic.
Update on 16 April 2019: Not everything went to plan after the landing. The automated Octograbber on Drone Ship Of Course I Still Love You does not work on the core rocket due to different Falcon Heavy attachment points. The back up secure fastening system could not be applied as the crew were unable to operate safely in the rough sea state. The core stage then fell overboard in rough seas during voyage back to Port Canaveral base and it was damaged beyond economic repair – although the engines may yet be recovered and cleaned.
The two fairing halves were however recovered from the sea (SpaceX has given up on trying to keep them dry) and these will be used on future launches.