Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

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

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

Liftoff with Heavy's new military-certified Falcon 9 engines was crucial in the race with Boeing-Lockheed venture United Launch Alliance and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin as Musk's SpaceX, working to flight-prove its rocket fleet one mission at a time, aims to clinch a third of all US National Security Space missions - coveted military contracts worth billions.

After a 24-hour delay due to weather, the rocket launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 6:35 p.m. local time.

"Successful deployment of Arabsat-6A to geosynchronous transfer orbit confirmed-completing Falcon Heavy's first commercial mission!" .

Roughly three minutes after clearing the pad, Heavy's two side boosters separated from the core rocket for a synchronised landing at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

In the test mission, Heavy's core booster missed the vessel and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. That flight deployed a Tesla Roadster manned by a spacesuit-clad dummy called "Starman".

More than 23 storeys in height, the Space X Falcon Heavy packs twice as much power as any other rocket on the Earth.

More than a year later, SpaceX has now launched the 70-meter-high Falcon Heavy, created to carry more than 64 metric tonnes of cargo, with the Arabsat-6A on board. Musk says SpaceX plans on reusing the fairings during the launch of its own Starlink satellite mission later this year.

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Musk also indicated that the hardware appeared to be undamaged and will be used again later this year to launch some of SpaceX's Starlink global broadband satellites.

'Both fairings recovered, ' Musk wrote in a tweet.

The payload fairings are clam shell-like nose cone halves that protect the craft's payload.

Musk has sought to recover and reuse the fairings for additional launches because they're expensive to build.

SpaceX has tried to recover payload fairings during previous launches but to no avail. This same principle has informed the mission architecture behind the BFR system, which consists of the reusable Starship spacecraft and the Super Heavy launch vehicle.

This time all the boosters came back safely which makes this the first fully successful mission for the Falcon Heavy. This is in response to VP Mike Pence's call for NASA to land astronauts on the surface of the Moon by 2024, "by any means necessary". And since last year's first Falcon Heavy launch, the company has only had one unsuccessful booster landing.

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