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

SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy and lands all three rocket boosters for the first time. But what was especially impressive this time around is the fact that they managed to retrieve all three of the Falcon Heavy's rocket boosters, as well as the payload fairings.

The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m).

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 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.

The launch was also significant in that it was the first time that SpaceX has managed to bring back all of three of the rocket's first stages.

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 Arabsat 6A is a modern communications satellite developed by Lockheed Martin for Arabsat, an organisation founded by the Arab League in 1976 to provide telecommunications services to the region.

The communications satellite Arabsat 6A separates from the second stage of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket during its April 11, 2019 launch, ending a successful liftoff and trip to orbit.

Touchdown! The two side boosters successfully landed at SpaceX's Landing Zones 1 and 2 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The next step is to put the fairings to work again on a Falcon 9 rocket that will blast additional Starlink satellites into orbit, scheduled for later this year.

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

Unfortunately, all previous attempts had failed and the fairings landed in the ocean. Seawater isn't the best for rocket components, but the company is confident it can refurbish the fairings after they've been dunked in the ocean. The launch was also Falcon Heavy's first commercial endeavor. With this deployment the Falcon Heavy, created with the goal of sending manned missions to the Moon and Mars, has successfully completed its first commercial mission.

SpaceX is now testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets. But this time the main core touched down safely on the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You".

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