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14 April 2019, 05:15 | Edward Lowe
SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is set to blast off tonight
That's why the second-ever launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket - and the first to carry a payload for a paying customer - was a key milestone for SpaceX.
The rocket is part of a growing number of launch services at SpaceX, which includes the Crew Dragon that docked onto the International Space Station in March. It was carrying Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster with the crash dummy Starman at the wheel. It was all smiles following the flawless lift-off of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket complete with its 6460 kgs (13200 lbs) cargo.
Roughly three minutes after clearing the pad, the rocket's two side boosters separated from the core rocket for a synchronized landing at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, sparking boisterous cheers from SpaceX headquarters.
Arabsat CEO Khaled bin Ahmed Balkheyour called the launch a, "momentous leap in the field of commercial satellites manufacturing and launching".
NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co a total of $6.8 billion to build competing-rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil, something not possible since the U.S. Space Shuttle was retired from service in 2011. With an individual price of $6 million per, SpaceX plans to reuse these in for a Starlink mission at a later date.
"Three for three boosters today", a SpaceX webcast commentator said. The Falcon-Heavy rocket was launched at 10.35 pm. The core booster is shooting for an ocean platform.
On Falcon Heavy's maiden voyage into space in February 2018, an estimated 100,000 visitors came to watch.
SpaceX typically launches Falcon 9 rockets. As such, this marks the first commercial mission for SpaceX's powerful rocket. That launch was the biggest rocket since the Saturn era ended in the 1970s.
The rocket will be able to lift 64 tons into orbit, doubling the lift capacity of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost, the company said.
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Weather in the Atlantic is now about as good as could be expected, with minimal waves and low winds, excellent conditions for the safe recovery of Falcon Heavy's center core - likely B1055 - and Version 2 payload fairing halves.
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