SpaceX's Falcon Heavy will launch the world's largest private communications satellite today

SpaceX shared an image of Falcon Heavy's 27 Merlin engines, capable of producing five million lbs of thrust, ahead of launch.
Chris Young
Falcon Heavy's 27 Merlin engines.
Falcon Heavy's 27 Merlin engines.

SpaceX / Twitter 

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket will take to the skies today, July 26, to lift the world's largest commercial communications satellite, Maxar Technologies' Jupiter 3, to geostationary orbit.

Falcon Heavy is scheduled to liftoff at 11:04 p.m. EDT (1504 GMT) from Launch Complex-39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It will be the seventh launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, which is comprised of three Falcon 9 boosters strapped together and an upper stage. You can watch the entire launch live via SpaceX's YouTube channel in the embedded video below.

Falcon Heavy to lift world's largest private comms satellite

Once in orbit, the Jupiter 3 satellite will join other satellites in the Hughes Jupiter satellite fleet, which provides broadband internet services to North and South America.

According to a Hughes press statement, when it's fully deployed, the Jupiter 3 satellite's solar arrays will rival the wingspan of a commercial airliner, which can be up to 160 feet (50 meters) long.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy will launch the world's largest private communications satellite today
Jupiter 3 before its shipment for launch in Florida.

Jupiter 3 will double the capacity of the Huges Jupiter satellite fleet with an additional 500 Gbps data rate. It will serve rural areas, providing high-speed internet where fiber optic internet isn't available, as well as in-flight WiFi.

"JUPITER 3 features entirely new architecture based on a broad range of technology advances, including the miniaturization of electronics, solid state amplifiers, and more efficient antenna designs," a Maxar Technologies statement explained.

Falcon Heavy flies for the seventh time

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket first flew in 2018, taking with it SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster and a mannequin in an astronaut suit called Starman.

The rocket's 27 Merlin engines (pictured at the top of the page) produce over 5 million lbs of thrust at liftoff and it can carry almost 60 thousand lbs (27,215 kilograms) of payload to geosynchronous orbit. 

Until recently, it was the world's most powerful rocket. It was surpassed this year and last, though, following the debut launches of Starship and NASA's Space Launch System (SLS).

For today's mission, Falcon Heavy's seventh, the massive rocket won't recover its core booster, which will drop into the Atlantic Ocean following first-stage separation.

However, the massive rocket's two side boosters will perform boost-back burns shortly after separation and will then perform the now-iconic back-to-back Falcon booster landings that typically preceded a Falcon Heavy launch.

You can watch the entire launch live, including the dramatic booster landings, via SpaceX's YouTube channel, in the embedded video below.

SpaceX is also gearing up toward the second orbital launch attempt of its massive Starship rocket, which it hopes will eventually send humans to Mars. The private space firm recently shared a pair of images of the Starship Super Heavy prototype Booster 9 being lifted onto the launch mount at its Starbase facility in South Texas.

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