The most powerful operational rocket in the world, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, launched its first commercial mission on Thursday from Florida in a key demonstration for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's space company in the race to grasp lucrative military launch contracts.
Less than eight minutes after take off, the two boosters landed side by side on Cape Canaveral, while the central core stage landed itself one minute later on the drone ship called "Of Course I Still Love You" in the Atlantic Ocean. Not only did the USA launch provider successfully lift the Arabsat payload to orbit, it also successfully landed all three of its boosters back on Earth.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk warned in advance things might go wrong, given the upgraded version of the rocket with unproven changes.
Wednesday's launch was the second for Falcon Heavy following its successful maiden flight on February 6, 2018 when its payload was the personal red-colored Tesla Roadster of Elon Musk. A third booster landed on a barge in the ocean, something SpaceX hadn't accomplished with the previous Falcon Heavy launch. The Falcon-Heavy rocket was launched at 10.35 pm. Pad 39A is the launch pad that played host to the historic Apollo missions as well as NASA's Space Shuttle program.
Those on the ground likely viewed the mission by the sound it generated. On Feb. 6, 2018, the rocket carried a red Tesla Roadster into space in a demonstration of the rocket's capability in order to get more orders.
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 SpaceX launch, which also happened to be the Heavy's second-ever flight, delivered a Saudi Arabian satellite into space. The Falcon Heavy is essentially three of those single rockets strapped together.