Mars boost: Successful launch for Elon Musk's reusable Falcon Heavy rocket

13 April, 2019, 15:38 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Elon Musk says SpaceX has recovered BOTH rocket fairings from ocean undamaged and will reuse them

The most powerful operational rocket on the planet took off at 6.35 p.m. on Thursday from the historic 39A launch pad at the Kennedy Space Centre, the same platform that the Moon missions of the Apollo programme were launched from, and then managed to recover for the first time the three Falcon 9 rocket parts that make up the device, reports Efe news. 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.

SpaceX is hoping that, with Heavy's first commercial flight under its belt, it can increase the frequency with which the massive rocket blasts off.

More than a year later, SpaceX has now launched the 70-meter-high Falcon Heavy, created to carry more than 64 metric tonnes of cargo, with the Arabsat-6A on board. The rocket landed successfully, completing a triple landing for SpaceX during the Arabsat 6A satellite launch on April 11, 2019. The company also made history by successfully recovering both of its side boosters and the central core booster, which it had never done before. 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.

Two of the boosters landed in Cape Canaveral in Florida and the third booster landed on an off-shore drone ship.

This successful mission follows last year's first launch - a test that saw billionaire SpaceX boss Elon Musk send his own vehicle into orbit.

For its first commercial mission, the payload was a communications satellite built by Riyadh-based telecom Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat).


This was followed two minutes later by the core booster landing at sea aboard the company's droneship, Of Course I Still Love You, which was parked at sea 990 km (615 miles) off the coast of Cape Canaveral.

The payload fairings are clam shell-like nose cone halves that protect the craft's payload. Two Starlink test satellites were launched previous year and the company hopes to launch the next set in the coming months using a Falcon 9 rocket. 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.

During its first Falcon Heavy launch in February 2018, the firm landed two of the firms side boosters simultaneously on separate launchpads.

SpaceX is now testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets.

NASA subsequently tweeted: "Congratulations to @SpaceX on today's successful launch and landing of the Falcon Heavy rocket!"

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