SpaceX successfully launches Falcon Heavy, world's most powerful rocket, for paying customer

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center

Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched its massive Falcon Heavy rocket Thursday for Saudi Arabia's Arabsat, the rocket's first mission for a paying customer.

The so-called Arabsat 6A satellite was placed into an equatorial orbit some 22,000 miles (36,000km) above the Earth. Nine minutes after lift-off the main central rocket returned and landed perfectly onto its floating barge (named "Of Course I Still Love You"). Just over a month after its Crew Dragon capsule mated with the International Space Station in the first commercial docking with the ISS, it successfully launched and landed its Falcon Heavy for mission Arabsat-6A.

The modern and innovative satellite, weighing more than 5,900 kilograms, will provide television, radio, internet and mobile communication services throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to SpaceX.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk put his own Tesla convertible on last year's demo.

SpaceX tried to launch the Falcon Heavy rocket on Wednesday, however, high winds forced the company to push the liftoff window to Thursday, April 11. It's nearly certainly still in orbit around the sun with a mannequin at the wheel. As the first commercial payload for Falcon Heavy, the launch opens a new era for the private space industry and expands SpaceX's dominance in the industry. Although fairing recovery vessel Mr. Steven is also out and about, the vessel will not be taking part in this launch's recovery efforts after an anomaly earlier this year catastrophically damaged his arms and net, breaking two arms off and resulting in the loss of the net.

Those on the ground likely viewed the mission by the sound it generated. The boosters for that flight may be recycled from this one. In 2018, the two side boosters landed safely at Cape Canaveral Air Force base.

Bridenstine said everything is on the space table as NASA strives to meet the White House's goal of landing astronauts back on the moon by 2024. The Falcon Heavy is essentially three of those single rockets strapped together.

The US Air Force tapped SpaceX in 2018 to launch for $130 million a classified military satellite, and in February added three more missions in a $297 million contract.

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