Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Elon Musk's SpaceX sends world's most powerful rocket on first commercial flight

Falcon Heavy launch delayed again, now targeted for Thursday evening SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is set to blast off tonight
Cary Marshall | 12 April, 2019, 06:01

SpaceX launched its second supersized rocket and for the first time landed all three boosters Thursday, a year after sending up a sports vehicle on the initial test flight.

Spectators watch from Jetty Park as booster rocket engines approach landing pads, after a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, carrying the Arabsat 6A communications satellite, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., April 11, 2019. It will be just the second time a Falcon Heavy soars.

A 2018 test already had proven the side boosters could land themselves.

SpaceX made headlines early previous year with the first-ever launch of the Falcon Heavy, and the successful return of two of its three boosters was a stunning sight.

And smooth it was: All three of the Falcon's rockets guided themselves home once they'd served their objective.

The rocket's side boosters landed at the SpaceX Landing Zones 1 and 2 within seconds of each other, while the center core landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship located in the Atlantic ocean, the company has confirmed.

"The Falcons have landed", SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.

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The Falcon Heavy rocket exerts 5.1 million pounds of thrust - that of more than a dozen jetliners, SpaceX said. As such, this marks the first commercial mission for SpaceX's powerful rocket. Musk replied with three red hearts.

The Roadster could still look much the same as it did for the February 6, 2018, launch, just not as shiny with perhaps some chips and flakes from the extreme temperature swings, according to Giorgini.

Since then, the United States military and private clients have signed contracts for Falcon Heavy launches, and NASA has raised the possibility it may use the rocket for its planned missions to the Moon. The boosters for that flight may be recycled from this one. The company selected Falcon Heavy in September for a mission anticipated in late 2017 or 2018.

Bridenstine said everything is on the space table as NASA strives to meet the White House's goal of landing astronauts back on the moon by 2024. The Falcon Heavy is essentially three of those single rockets strapped together.

SpaceX said it would try again Thursday evening.

However, with Musk's company intent on driving down launch costs by recycling rocket parts, the boosters for this flight may be re-used for future missions.

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