SpaceX launches first commercial mission of Falcon Heavy

Falcon Heavy lifted off yesterday from Cape Canaveral in Florida and successfully delivered its cargo into orbit

Falcon Heavy lifted off yesterday from Cape Canaveral in Florida and successfully delivered its cargo into orbit

SpaceX boss Elon Musk revealed on Twitter that both halves of the spacecraft's nosecone were also picked up, and they're going to send them back into space sooner rather than later. About three minutes after clearing the pad, Heavy's two side boosters separated from the core rocket for a synchronised landing at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, prompting loud cheers from SpaceX engineers in the company's Hawthorne, California headquarters.

On its first commercial mission, the Falcon Heavy is taking cargo into orbit. The company selected the Falcon Heavy for this launch back in 2015 since its extra lift capability meant that the satellite could be placed in a much higher transfer orbit, which will ensure a longer service life.

At take-off, the Falcon Heavy soared from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, using the same launch pad that shot Apollo astronauts to the Moon 50-years-ago.

The side boosters are already marked for Falcon Heavy's next mission, now set for June.

Believe it or not, the trio of boosters aren't the only things that SpaceX managed to recover.

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.

The payload fairings are clam shell-like nose cone halves that protect the craft's payload.

Musk also indicated that the hardware appeared to be undamaged and will be used again later this year to launch some of SpaceX's Starlink global broadband satellites.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, cleared its first unmanned test flight in March ahead of its crewed mission planned for July, while the first unmanned test for Boeing's Starliner capsule is scheduled for August on ULA's Atlas 5 rocket.

SpaceX has tried to recover payload fairings during previous launches but to no avail.

'Both fairings recovered, ' Musk wrote in a tweet.

The company even constructed a boat with a massive net attached, affectionately called Mr. Steven, to try to recover the fairings.

Musk has sought to recover and reuse the fairings for additional launches because they're expensive to build.

The latest launch marked the first time Falcon Heavy flies using the new Block 5 hardware, which is created to last longer than previous versions without the need for refurbishment. These boosters have been part of the Falcon 9 rocket for nearly a year and offer better thrust, improved landing legs and other features that make retrieval easier.

'We have landed the center core for the first time, ' a SpaceX announcer said.

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