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SpaceX successfully launches Falcon Heavy rocket

15 April 2019
SpaceX successfully launches Falcon Heavy rocket

In Falcon Heavy's first launch, in February 2018, a dummy dubbed Starman was placed behind the wheel of Musk's roadster, which is now orbiting the Sun somewhere between Earth and Mars.

He estimates that each fairing costs approximately $6 million, which equates to about 10 percent of the cost of a Falcon 9 launch.

The rocket is the most powerful in use today, with 27 engines firing at liftoff - nine per booster, taking off with the force of 18 passenger planes.

The launch on 26 April results in an arrival at the space station for a robotic capture by Expedition 59 crew members David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Nick Hague of NASA on Sunday, 28 April at 7 am EDT for a month-long stay.

The most powerful operational rocket in the world, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, launched its first commercial mission on April 11, from Florida in a key demonstration for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's space company in the race to grasp lucrative military launch contracts.

The company even constructed a boat with a massive net attached, affectionately called Mr. Steven, to try to recover the fairings.

"T plus 33 seconds into flight, under the power of 5.1 million pounds (2.2 million kg) of thrust, Falcon Heavy is headed to space", SpaceX launch commentator John Insprucker said on a livestream. While there was no "Starman" or red roadster atop the Falcon Heavy this time, the satellite riding into space still represented an important payload for SpaceX.

The happy landings were an improvement over SpaceX's Falcon Heavy test flight in February 2018.

Since then, the U.S. military and private clients have signed contracts for Falcon Heavy launches, and NASA has raised the possibility it may use the rocket for its planned missions to the Moon.

The space company has previously re-used first-stage and second-stage rocket boosters, in addition to one of its previously flown Dragon capsules.

In the test mission, Heavy's core booster missed the vessel and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

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

The Falcon Heavy's two side boosters gracefully lower themselves onto the landing zones at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Check back then to see if SpaceX can pull off a triple landing this time.