Falcon Heavy vaulted a pricey communications satellite into orbit for Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat.
The Falcon Heavy soared from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, using the same pad that shot Apollo astronauts to the moon a half-century ago and later space shuttle crews.
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. The Arabsat 6A communications satellite was built by Lockheed Martin.
"T plus 33 seconds into flight, under the power of 5.1 million pounds of thrust, Falcon Heavy is headed to space", SpaceX launch commentator John Insprucker said on a livestream.
Falcon Heavy's debut flight past year attracted massive attention, in part because CEO Elon Musk chose to launch his own luxury Tesla Roadster as the test payload. With a combination of reusability, affordability, and performance unlikely to be matched for a minimum of 2+ years, SpaceX and its Falcon Heavy rocket have the opportunity to create an entirely new market in the coming years. The auto, 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 US Air Force tapped SpaceX in 2018 to launch a classified military satellite, which cost it $US130 million ($182.3 million), and in February added three more missions in a $297 million contract.
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.
"We needed more lifetime for the satellite, so we had the option: Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy, and we chose to go with Falcon Heavy", he said.
Musk's casual mentions of a potential explosion spooked Arabsat executives, according to Bloomberg. It went off without a hitch. As before, the launch could take place at any time over a window of about three hours, but if SpaceX does indeed manage to launch its massive rocket today you'll be able to watch it live right here.
Falcon Heavy is not expected to fly almost as often as its smaller counterpart, which has completed more than 20 missions since last February.