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

Olive Hawkins
April 12, 2019

This will be the Falcon Heavy rocket's second flight, following a successful first launch in February 2018, during which the company famously flung Elon Musk's cherry red Tesla Roadster into deep space.

The Arabsat 6A communications satellite was built by Lockheed Martin.

The middle booster, after pushing the payload into space, returned almost 10 minutes later for a successful landing on SpaceX's seafaring drone ship 400 miles (645 km) off the Florida coast.

In Falcon Heavy's first launch, in February 2018, a dummy dubbed Starman was placed behind the wheel of Musk's roadster, which is now orbiting the Sun somewhere between Earth and Mars.

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.

It was the first time the company had landed all three boosters for Falcon Heavy.

The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in use today.

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The rocket is expected to be used primarily for USA military missions, and to launch spy satellites and hefty commercial telecom satellites. That's the only part of the first mission that missed.

SpaceX aims to land two of the first-stage boosters back at Cape Canaveral, just like it did for the rocket's debut previous year.

Since then, the USA military and private clients have signed contracts for Falcon Heavy launches, and NASA has raised the possibility it may use the rocket for its planned missions to the Moon.

Then, at around nine minutes after takeoff, the core booster landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which is stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. It will include coverage of the landing attempts and satellite deploy.

Falcon Heavy carried a communications satellite for Saudi-based telecom firm Arabsat, which will beam internet and television services over Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

SpaceX plans to launch its next Falcon Heavy later this year on a mission for the U.S. Air Force.

Though Falcon Heavy's inaugural launch ultimately went off without a hitch, SpaceX will now have to repeat that success with the added risk of carrying a multimillion dollar satellite.

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