SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket launches Arabsat-6A as its first commercial payload

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket launches Arabsat-6A as its first commercial payload

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. SpaceX will try to land two of the first-stage boosters back at Cape Canaveral and the core booster on an ocean platform.

The new and improved Falcon Heavy blasted off Thursday evening with a communication satellite called Arabsat - the rocket's first paying customer.

"Three for three boosters today", a SpaceX webcast commentator said.

Although the Falcon Heavy has proven itself flight-worthy, this is still just the second launch of a rocket with a staggering 27 engines, so there is definitely some uncertainty. The center core landed on a SpaceX drone ship ten minutes and 20 seconds into the mission. Their return was heralded by a fusillade of sonic booms.

The roads were also jammed for Wednesday night's launch attempt, which was scuttled by high winds.

Musk's SpaceX, working to prove the flight-worthiness of its rocket fleet one mission at a time, aims to clinch one-third of all US National Security Space missions - coveted contracts that are worth billions of dollars.

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Elon Musk's Tesla roadster launched from the Falcon Heavy rocket in February 2018 with a dummy driver named Starman.

But everything went exceedingly well, with SpaceX employees at company headquarters in Southern California cheering at every launch milestone, especially the three touchdowns.

"The Falcons have landed", Musk said in a tweet that included pictures of all three boosters.

Privately owned SpaceX, also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp, was founded in 2002 by Musk, who is also a co-founder of electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. A standard Falcon Heavy launch costs $90 million, according to the company's website, compared to $62 million for the Falcon 9.

Until SpaceX came along, rocket boosters were usually discarded in the ocean after satellite launches. The vehicle, which was carrying a space-suited mannequin nicknamed Starman, was vaulted into outer space and is expected to orbit the sun for the foreseeable future. The U.S. Air Force also chose Falcon Heavy for STP-2, its Space Test Program 2 mission.

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