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SpaceX launches first expendable Falcon Heavy rocket
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SpaceX launches first expendable Falcon Heavy rocket
by Jennifer Briggs
Space Coast FL (SPX) May 01, 2023

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 is the first of three new-generation broadband satellites for the California-based company Viasat, which was then integrated into Boeing's payload module and the 702 satellite platform. It will beam internet signals to underserved consumers, businesses, and governments.

The secondary payload Arcturus is Astranis Space Technologies' first commercial satellite. Weighing around 660 pounds (300 kg), it can deliver data capacity of up to 7.5 Gbps for Alaska and the surrounding region, "connecting the 4 billion unconnected to the internet, 1 satellite at a time."

Another small rideshare payload on Falcon Heavy is a CubeSat that will be operated by Washington-based Gravity Space's GS-1 microsatellite, hosting multiple payloads, including an Indonesian satellite Nusantara-H1-A to help retain regulatory rights to a geostationary orbital slot, which will bring-into-use (BIU) services at Ku, Ka, and V/Q frequency bands, and Infinite Orbits' autonomous navigation system "Obit Guard" using next-generation computer vision capabilities driven by machine learning-based estimation techniques to track Resident Space Objects (RSOs).

It's the first launch ever in which SpaceX intentionally expended all of the three first stage boosters on a Falcon Heavy rocket,meaning none of the three boosters will be recovered. SpaceX deployed the roughly 13,000-pound (6-metric-ton) ViaSat 3 Americas satellite and its co-passengers into a six-hour near-geosynchronous orbit using all of the rocket's fuel, requiring three burns by the upper stage engine.

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