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SpaceX's most powerful rocket takes off for first commercial flight

14 April 2019

SpaceX has carried out its first commercial launch with its Falcon Heavy rocket tasked with placing a Saudi satellite in orbit.

Space X successfully landed its three rocket boosters for the first time yesterday, following the delivery of its first commercial payload.

An unmanned capsule of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft splashes down into the Atlantic Ocean, after a short-term stay on the International Space Station, in this still image from video, in the Atlantic, about 200 miles off the Florida coast, on March 8, 2019.

The Roadster is thought to be on the other side of the sun from us right now, about three-quarters of the way around its first solar orbit, said senior analyst at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Jon Giorgini.

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.

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.

Lockheed Martin built the satellite, along with a second one, for Arabsat as part of a batch of contracts worth $650 million.

About 34 minutes after the liftoff, the satellite was deployed into the orbit.

When did SpaceX launch the Falcon rocket?

But SpaceX chief Elon Musk said upper-level wind shear was extremely high. Shortly after, the rocket's three boosters touched down back on Earth.

Falcon Heavy Flight 2's evening launch window now sits at 8:00-8:32 pm ET (00:00-00:32 UTC), leaving little margin for any bugs prior to liftoff but still plenty of time for at least one serious attempt.

During Falcon Heavy's maiden flight in 2018, its two booster cores made synchronized landings side-by-side in Florida. That launch was the biggest rocket since the Saturn era ended in the 1970s.

Development of the Falcon Heavy, like all of SpaceX's missions, has been described by SpaceX founder Elon Musk as a step toward his goal of sending people to Mars. And with a sticker price of $90 million, it is also about a third of the price of its closest competitor, United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy.

SpaceX's most powerful rocket takes off for first commercial flight