Elon Musk's SpaceX sends world's most powerful rocket on first commercial flight


SpaceX's Falcon Heavy proved its merit on Thursday night (April 11, ) when it took off into space on its first-ever commercial launch.

It will be just the second time a Falcon Heavy soars. 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.

SpaceX has launched its second supersized rocket and for the first time landed all three boosters, a year after sending up a sports auto on the initial test flight. But even more spectacularly, all three stages of the rocket successfully returned to Earth just minutes after launch, proving the Flacon Heavy's reliability.

The company selected Falcon Heavy in September for a mission anticipated in late 2017 or 2018.

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When did SpaceX launch the Falcon rocket?

Falcon Heavy's debut flight previous year attracted massive attention, in part because CEO Elon Musk chose to launch his own luxury Tesla Roadster as the test payload.

"Three for three boosters today", a SpaceX webcast commentator said.

Elon Musk's Tesla roadster launched from the Falcon Heavy rocket in February 2018 with a dummy driver named Starman. SpaceX is expected to attempt to land all three this week.

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Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat announced plans to launch with SpaceX in spring 2015, but at the time hadn't decided between the Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy.

"Arabsat-6A is a high-capacity telecommunications satellite that will deliver television, radio, Internet, and mobile communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe", SpaceX said in a Arabsat-6A mission description.

Lockheed Martin built the satellite, along with a second one, for Arabsat as part of a batch of contracts worth $650 million.

Arabsat-6A was due for its deployment about a half-hour after launch. Navigator and Searcher are expected to focus on gathering data and extricating Falcon Heavy's fairing halves - hopefully intact after parasailing gently onto the ocean surface - from the Atlantic.

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A huge cloud of exhaust went up from the three Falcon 9 rocket cores that were yoked together to provide more than 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust. Falcon Heavy only has five missions on its manifest so far.