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Falcon Heavy center core toppled after landing

18 April 2019

As The Verge noted, the Heavy's central core has a slightly different design than the Falcon 9 first stage, because the former must link up with two side boosters. A tweet by SpaceX boss Elon Musk suggests some parts of the rocket might be recovered and used again. The rocket's central booster is a modified version of SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster, flanked by two other Falcon 9 boosters in the flight-ready Falcon Heavy rocket. However, modifications will apparently allow the octagrabber to aid future Heavy missions.

'Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX's recovery team was unable to secure the center booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral, ' SpaceX said in a statement. "While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence", Gleeson said.

SpaceX doesn't expect future missions to be affected by the core's loss.

The launch on 11 April was the first commercial launch of the Falcon Heavy, but the second time the Falcon Heavy was launched since it was developed. Its ability to recover boosters like the one that landed at sea this weekend is a key selling point, since the company says reusable hardware helps reduce launch costs.

The three rocket cores are fixed together during liftoff and are created to break apart after launch and guide themselves back to safe landings: The two side boosters conduct synchronized touchdowns on ground pads in Florida, while the center booster aims for an autonomous seaborne platform, called a droneship. Both side boosters returned to Cape Canaveral, Florida, while the core booster landed on a platform hundreds of miles offshore.

Arabsat-6A leaves Earth courtesy of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy.

SpaceX landed a very big fish but was unable to reel it in.

The next Falcon Heavy launch with military payloads is expected no earlier than June, the Air Force confirmed via Twitter on Monday. The two outer cores that landed safely last week will be used together with an entirely new center core. The Falcon Heavy is scheduled for another launch this summer.

Falcon Heavy center core toppled after landing