SpaceX’s massive Falcon Heavy rocket blasted off for the second time in history on Thursday. The launch of the Falcon Heavy, which is the most powerful operational rocket in the world, was followed by the successful return of its three rocket boosters, marking the first time the company has achieved a triple landing.
The Falcon Heavy was launched at 6:35 pm ET from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It is the first commercial flight for the vehicle, which deployed the Saudi Arabian communications satellite Arabsat-6A into orbit.
The Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight occurred on February 6, 2018 and famously delivered a Tesla Roadster into orbit around the Sun. That event was just a test flight. It culminated with the rocket’s two side boosters vertically landing back on pads at Kennedy Space Center. The central core booster, however, crashed at its touchdown site on a barge.
On Thursday, the core booster successfully landed on its barge target. The triple booster landing demonstrates that critical portions of SpaceX’s launch vehicles can be reused, which may reduce the cost of spaceflight—one of the company’s longstanding goals.
SpaceX plans to launch the Falcon Heavy again in June 2019, for a mission that will carry an Air Force satellite, a LightSail, an atomic clock to space, and several small satellites to space.
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