Listen for sonic booms tonight after SpaceX launch of Falcon Heavy

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch is currently scheduled for Sunday April 7 with a window of 6:36 p.m. through 8:35 p.m

Aside from being the last major source of data for the ultimate certification of Falcon Heavy for high-value military launches, the USAF hopes that STP-2 will be a critical step towards opening the doors of launch contract competitions to flight-proven rockets like Falcon 9 and - eventually - Blue Origin's New Glenn. The rocket launch was postponed from early April due to unspecified concerns, and then postponed again just this week due to weather.

It has been more than a year since SpaceX successfully completed the first demo flight of the long-awaited Falcon Heavy, and today could be its first commercial flight. Forecasters predicted an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather.

The Falcon Heavy makes use of the highly successful Falcon 9 design - it's actually composed of three Falcon 9 core stages with a few design tweaks.

Since then, the U.S. military and private clients have signed contracts for Falcon Heavy launches, and NASA has raised the possibility it may use the rocket for its planned missions to the Moon.

As with all SpaceX launches, this will be a livestreamed event.

Following Wednesday's launch, SpaceX will attempt to simultaneously return the two side boosters to landing pads and land the center core on a drone ship. We'll see if they have better luck this time around. Liftoff is scheduled for between 6:30 and 8:30 pm ET Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket was purchased to launch the Arabsat 6A communications station for the Saudi-based Arabsat consortium of Arab states. A standard Falcon Heavy launch costs $90 million, according to the company's website, compared to $62 million for the Falcon 9. It was built to serve as SpaceX's heavy lift vehicle, with five million pounds of thrust capable of putting even large payloads into Earth orbit and beyond. On that flight, the Falcon Heavy launched a red Tesla Roadster owned by SpaceX founder Elon Musk and stuck two of its three first-stage booster landings. That will be the first Falcon Heavy flight to re-use boosters. The first retrieval didn't go so well for the poor old core booster, which missed the landing and plunged into the ocean.

SpaceX's payload for this mission is a high-capacity telecommunications satellite known as Arabsat-6A, which will deliver radio, Internet, television and mobile access to customers in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Though Falcon Heavy's inaugural launch ultimately went off without a hitch, SpaceX will now have to repeat that success with the added risk of carrying a multimillion dollar satellite.

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