SpaceX Falcon Heavy Sticks Triple Rocket Landing With First Paid Mission

Eloise Marshall
April 14, 2019

SpaceX plans to refly the Falcon Heavy side boosters from the Arabsat-6A mission on its next Falcon Heavy mission, the U.S. Air Force Space Test Program-2 rideshare mission.

The rocket was launching a satellite into orbit for Saudi Arabian company Arabsat.

The Falcon Heavy had been scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday but was delayed because of fierce winds in the upper atmosphere.

Built by Lockheed Martin as its largest and most powerful commercial satellite to date, Arabsat-6A will provide high-capacity telecommunications, delivering television, radio, internet, and mobile communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. It was the first time the company had landed all three boosters for Falcon Heavy.

When the Falcon boosters return, the two side boosters descend together, side-by-side - coming back to their own landing zones as if you had been watching the flight on rewind.

The Falcon Heavy is the world's tallest and most powerful rocket in use.

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

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The rocket is expected to be used primarily for United States military missions, and to launch spy satellites and hefty commercial telecom satellites.

During Falcon Heavy's maiden flight in 2018, its two booster cores made synchronized landings side-by-side in Florida. Featuring three brand new Block 5 boosters, this mission also has the potential to redeem a slight anomaly that caused Falcon Heavy Flight 1's center core to be destroyed during a recovery attempt.

SpaceX's launch livestream will go live approximately 20 minutes before liftoff, now scheduled for no earlier than 8pm ET (00:00 UTC, April 11).

"I don't think we saw really anything in the mission so far-we've got to do the data reviews-that would preclude us from having a crewed mission later this year", Stich said.

When the rocket flew previous year, its two side boosters made synchronized landings on side-by-side ground pads in Florida. The center core landed on a SpaceX drone ship ten minutes and 20 seconds into the mission.

Elon Musk's Tesla roadster launched from the Falcon Heavy rocket in February 2018 with a dummy driver named Starman. That launch was the biggest rocket since the Saturn era ended in the 1970s.

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