Wednesday, 26 June, 2019

SpaceX Launches First Commercial Rocket Into Orbit, With Saudi Satellite

This still image from video courtesy of SpaceX shows the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket lifting off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida SpaceX Falcon Heavy sticks the landing in spectacular launch
Sandra Phillips | 12 April, 2019, 07:52

The most powerful operational rocket in the world, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, launched its first commercial mission on Thursday from Florida in a key demonstration for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's space company in the race to grasp lucrative military launch contracts. Eastern time from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Then, at around nine minutes after takeoff, the core booster landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which is stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX made headlines early previous year with the first-ever launch of the Falcon Heavy, and the successful return of two of its three boosters was a stunning sight.

About 34 minutes after liftoff, the shiny silver satellite was successfully deployed. 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 slated for August on ULA's Atlas 5 rocket.

A standard Falcon Heavy launch costs $90 million, according to the company's website, compared to $62 million for the Falcon 9.

Falcon Heavy has already been chosen for a few contracts, including a $130 million contract to launch an Air Force satellite that was awarded just four months after its inaugural flight in February 2018.

SpaceX said it would try again Thursday evening.

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The satellite is created to provide television, internet, telephone, and secure communications to customers in the Middle East.

The rocket is expected to be used primarily for USA military missions, and to launch spy satellites and hefty commercial telecom satellites. It's nearly certainly still in orbit around the sun with a mannequin at the wheel.

NASA's Saturn V rockets, used for the Apollo moon shots, are the all-time launch leaders so far in size and might.

That was back when SpaceX was still expected to test Falcon Heavy later that same year. The SpaceX team made sure to add more fluid this time.

"T plus 33 seconds into flight, under the power of 5.1 million pounds of thrust, Falcon Heavy is headed to space", SpaceX launch commentator John Insprucker said on a livestream.

Falcon Heavy is not expected to fly almost as often as its smaller counterpart, which has completed more than 20 missions since last February.

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