SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy successfully launched its first commercial mission today with Saudi-based telecom firm Arabsat as its customer in a key demonstration for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space company in the race to grasp lucrative military launch contracts, Reuters reports and the companies involved confirm.
The Falcon Heavy rocket blasted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center carrying its first customer payload, the Arabsat 6A satellite, manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
The successful launch of Arabsat 6A by the Falcon Heavy by SpaceX ushers in a “new era in the industry of manufacturing and launching of heavy satellites.”
“We are thankful for the 6A satellite launch success as it was challenging for us and SpaceX because it is the first largest and heaviest satellite lifted by SpaceX on the most powerful rocket in operation today, the Falcon Heavy, which was designed specifically to launch such a load commercially,” Khaled bin Ahmed Balkheyour, president and CEO of Arabsat, said today at Cape Canaveral air force base. “That is why this launch is considered a momentous leap in the field of commercial satellites manufacturing and launching.”
Arabsat-6A is a high-capacity telecommunications satellite that will deliver television, radio, Internet, and mobile communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Built by Lockheed Martin, Arabsat 6A is the largest and most powerful commercial satellite Lockheed Martin has ever produced.
Last year, Musk launched a red Tesla sports car into space as a successful demonstration.