Launching off of Pad 39A, the Falcon Heavy launched its first commercial payload, a satellite for the Saudi Arabian company Arabsat which will deliver television, radio, Internet, and mobile communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Now, not only did SpaceX land three rocket boosters yesterday after their Falcon Heavy launch, but they have also received a NASA contract for an asteroid redirect mission.
Falcon Heavy is a part of Space X's growing service offerings, which are aided by the boosters' ability to be reused in later flights. The red Roaster - with a mannequin, dubbed Starman, likely still at the wheel - remains in a solar orbit stretching just past Mars.
In its turn, Russian Rocket and Space Corporation Energia announced plans to develop a super-heavy-lift launch vehicle using existing components back in 2016. Both side boosters will return to SpaceX's Cape Canaveral Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1/LZ-2), while the Block 5 center core will aim for drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) some 1000 km (~600 mi) distant in the Atlantic Ocean.
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. As with past launches, SpaceX livestreamed the launch; the video is available to watch any time below.
"Three for three boosters today", a SpaceX webcast commentator said.
The middle booster, after pushing the payload into space, returned almost ten minutes later for a successful landing on SpaceX's seafaring drone ship 645km off the Florida coast.
This will be the private space company's second launch of the Falcon Heavy.
The first Falcon Heavy's central core missed its landing at the end of last year's mission, due to the fact that it ran out of ignition fluid before the final engine burn.
SpaceX's reusable designs make the Falcon Heavy an appealing way to get large payloads into space.
"Everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way that we expected it to", Benjamin Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a live stream from California. That launch was the biggest rocket since the Saturn era ended in the 1970s.