SpaceX clears Falcon Heavy for liftoff after launch pad lightning strike

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket takes off from Florida November 1, 2022 – Copyright AFP ISAAC LAWRENCE

SpaceX is now targeting Friday to launch its sixth Falcon Heavy mission with satellites for ViaSat, Astranis, and Gravity Space.

The Falcon Heavy is scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 7:29 p.m. EDT (2329 GMT) on Friday, carrying three satellites toward distant geostationary orbit, is reporting.

SpaceX says engineers completed checks of the Falcon Heavy rocket, its satellite payloads, and ground systems at the Kennedy Space Center after a lightning strike on the launch pad’s tower Thursday night, part of a wave of severe weather that forced officials to delay the launch attempt.

The countdown for the Falcon Heavy launch was scrubbed Thursday due to severe weather around NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which included lightning and a tornado warning. The liftoff was rescheduled for no earlier than Friday at 7:29 p.m. EDT (2329 UTC), the opening of a 57-minute launch window.

Last night’s storm in Florida produced hail, tornadoes, and lightning. Following this strike on the tower at 39A, teams performed additional checkouts of Falcon Heavy, the payloads, and ground support equipment. Credit – Space X on Twitter

SpaceX will be launching the ViaSat 3 Americas broadband satellite, a 14,000-pound (6,400 kilograms) broadband satellite that will be operated by California-based company Viasat. The spacecraft is heading to geostationary orbit to beam internet signals to rural consumers, airplane passengers, and ships across North and South America.

The second satellite flying Friday is Arcturus, a communications craft that will be operated by San Francisco-based Astranis Space Technologies.

The third payload is GS-1, a CubeSat that will be operated by Washington-based Gravity Space. GS-1’s primary mission involves providing communications for the Internet of Things applications, though it will do some other things in orbit as well.

“The spacecraft is also designed to provide orbital slot reservation services (BIU) around the geosynchronous arc. The spacecraft features three wideband frequency bands,” Gravity Space wrote in a description of the satellite(opens in new tab). “The spacecraft will also carry an imaging system capable of imaging both the Earth and spatial bodies, as well as an experimental rendezvous and docking payload.”

The primary mission for the Our new spacecraft (G-Space 1) is to provide communication services for IOTs (Internet of Things). Source – Gravity Space

The Falcon Heavy consists of three strapped-together first stages of SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket. The central booster is topped with an upper stage and the payload(s).

Falcon Heavy debuted in February 2018 with a memorable test flight that sent SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster into orbit around the sun with Starman, a spacesuit-clad mannequin, at the wheel.

SpaceX clears Falcon Heavy for liftoff after launch pad lightning strike
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