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Falcon Heavy launches massive GEO satellite for Viasat
Falcon Heavy launches massive GEO satellite for Viasat
by Darryl Coote
Washington DC (UPI) May 1, 2023

Elon Musk's SpaceX launched a Falcon Heavy rocket with a payload of satellites from the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday after having to abort the mission days earlier.

The two-stage rocket -- loaded with competitor ViaSat-3 Americas broadband Internet satellite, as well as satellites by Astranis and Gravity Space -- was scheduled to launch Friday evening but the mission was aborted with less than a minute left in the countdown.

Heavy thunderstorms on Thursday had originally pushed the launch into Friday.

On Sunday, the rocket launched at 8:26 p.m. from historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Station in Florida following an hour delay due to ground winds.

The ViaSat-3 Americans massive satellite, which is the mission's main payload, is to be deployed first followed by the Arcturus satellite of San Francisco-based Astranis and the Gravity Space's GS-1 orbital.

Unlike many SpaceX missions that use Falcon 9 rockets, neither the side boosters nor the core of the Falcon Heavy rocket will be recovered as "a lot of extra performance" was required to deliver ViaSat-3's 13,000-pound satellite into geostationary orbit above the Earth, Atticus Vadera, propulsion engineer with SpaceX, said during the live broadcast.

Geostationary orbit circles above the equator and travels at the same rate as the Earth's rotation.

Unlike Falcon 9 and its single one-stage booster, the first stage of Falcon Heavy has three boosters, each of which has nine Merlin engines for a total of 27.

"You can think of Falcon Heavy as essentially three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, which means it can carry much larger payloads," Jessie Anderson, production and engineering manager with SpaceX, said during the launch broadcast.

Both boosters have flown previous missions with the center core being new.

Meanwhile, the fairings were to be retrieved upon SpaceX's Doug recovery vessel. The flight marks the 100th reuse of flight-proven fairings, SpaceX said.

ViaSat-3 Americas Successfully Launched
Carlsbad CA - Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, today announced the successful launch of ViaSat-3 Americas aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

ViaSat-3 lifted off yesterday at 8:26 pm EDT, and approximately four hours and thirty two minutes after liftoff, the satellite separated from the launch vehicle. First signals from the satellite were acquired approximately 15 minutes later through a ground station in South Korea.

In the coming days, ViaSat-3 will deploy its solar arrays and drift to its final orbital location. Viasat expects it will take less than three weeks for ViaSat-3 to reach its final orbital destination, located at 88.9 degrees west longitude.

Mark Dankberg, Viasat's chairman and CEO commented, "Today's successful launch of ViaSat-3 Americas opens a new chapter in Viasat's growth. This first Americas satellite will multiply our available bandwidth, and enable faster speeds and more coverage - especially for our mobility customers. It's not just a new satellite, it's a new way to build broadband satellites. Thanks so much to all our people, and our partners, for their commitment and dedication to getting this done."

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After severe weather and technical delays, the ViaSat-3 Americas satellite and two smaller communications satellites, Arcturus and GS-1, launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39-A (LC-39A), Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 8:26 p.m. EDT (00:26 UTC) on Thursday, April 30, 2023. The satellites will be placed in a circular orbit near a geostationary altitude of more than 20,000 miles (almost 36,000 kilometers) above Earth. The Boeing-built ViaSat 3 Americas satellite ... read more

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