SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Carries Out 1st Commercial Mission

12 April, 2019, 10:48 | Author: Emilio Conner
  • The Falcon Heavy rocket at sunset along the Florida coast

The Falcon Heavy was poised to blast off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday night with a communication satellite. With only one successful Falcon Heavy launch under its belt, SpaceX would rather not have to delay this second flight again, but safety is a top priority. About eight minutes after liftoff, the rocket's two side boosters came back to nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for simultaneous side-by-side landings.

SpaceX set a company record a year ago with 21 launches for customers.

The Falcon Heavy central core booster lands on a drone ship stationed hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. As usual, the live stream will include commentary from SpaceX staff, along with details about the mission and status of the spacecraft. The boosters can then be refurbished and used again, which SpaceX says drastically reduces the cost of spaceflight.

Nearby beaches and other prime viewing spots were packed with tourists and locals eager to catch not just the launch but the rare and dramatic return of twin boosters, accompanied by sonic booms.

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Introducing a new ultra-powerful rocket has allowed SpaceX to compete directly with arch rival United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, for lucrative government contracts that require heavy-lift launch vehicles. SpaceX employees at company headquarters in Southern California cheered every launch milestone and especially the three touchdowns.

Back in February 2018, the test payload was SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster with a mannequin nicknamed Starman in the driver's seat. It's nearly certainly still in orbit around the sun with a mannequin at the wheel.

Completed less than 35 minutes after launch, this mission included a wealth of major events and firsts, including the first launch of Falcon Heavy Block 5, the first successful triple booster recovery, and one of the highest orbital apogees yet seen during a SpaceX mission - 90,000 km (55,500 mi) above Earth.

The Falcon Heavy rocket exerts 5.1 million pounds of thrust - that of more than a dozen jetliners, SpaceX said. It has three rocket boosters, which are strapped together during launch and are created to then break apart and make pinpoint landings back on Earth.

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