SpaceX is getting ready to launch an enormous communications satellite using its most powerful operational rocket, the Falcon Heavy.
The Falcon Heavy is a triple-booster rocket that packs more than 5 million pounds of thrust at launch, about three times more power than the single-booster Falcon 9 rocket that SpaceX currently uses for most of its missions. However, the Heavy is less powerful than NASA’s new SLS rocket, which creates around 8.8 million pounds of thrust, and also SpaceX’s own in-development Super Heavy, with its 17 million pounds of thrust making it the most powerful rocket ever to fly (though its maiden mission in April ended in a mid-air fireball).
SpaceX is aiming to send the Falcon Heavy skyward from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, July 26, in what will be its seventh flight since its debut mission in 2018.
The flight will deploy the 9-metric-ton Jupiter 3 communications satellite to a geosynchronous transfer orbit in a mission for Maryland-based Hughes Network Systems. When fully deployed, the Jupiter 3 — the largest commercial communications satellite ever built — approaches the wingspan of a commercial airliner, the company said.
SpaceX will live stream the lift-off and also the spectacular moment when the two side boosters come in to land upright close to the launch site shortly after lift-off. Safe landings will allow SpaceX to reuse the Falcon 9 boosters for future flights. It seems there are no plans to recover the core booster.
Both of the side boosters on this flight previously supported the USSF-44 and USSF-67 missions.
How to watch
SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, July 26, for the launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket on the Hughes Jupiter 3 mission.
The 99-minute launch window opens at 11:04 p.m. ET (8:04 p.m. PT). If required, a backup launch opportunity is available on Thursday, July 27, with the same window.
A live webcast of this mission will begin about 15 minutes before lift-off. You can watch it via the player embedded at the top of this page or via SpaceX’s YouTube channel, which will carry the same feed. If there are any late changes to the schedule due to weather or technical issues, the details will be shared by SpaceX on its X (formerly Twitter) account.