The most powerful operational rocket ship in the world, SpaceX& # 39; S Falcon Heavy, has his first commercial Florida mission on Thursday in a major demonstration for the billionaire entrepreneur Elon musk & # 39; s space company in the race to make lucrative military launch contracts.
The 23-storey Heavy, which previously marketed Musk's cherry red Tesla roadster in a 2018 debut test flight, divested from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with his first customer payload.
"T plus 33 seconds flight, under the power of 5.1 million pounds of thrust, Falcon Heavy sets off for space, " SpaceX launch commentator John Insprucker said on a live stream.
About three minutes after clearing the pad, the two Heavy boosters were separated from the core rocket ship for a synchronized landing at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with noisy cheers from SpaceX engineers at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
The middle booster came back, after pushing the cargo into space, almost 10 minutes later for a successful landing SpaceX& # 39; s seafaring drone ship 400 miles (645 km) off the Florida coast. In the 2018 test mission, Heavy's nuclear booster missed the ship and crashed into the Atlantic.
"The falcons have landed," Musk wrote on Twitter and initiated the first successful recovery of all three rocket ship boosters, which will be refurbished this summer and will fly again in another Falcon Heavy mission to transport a swarm of military and scientific satellites to the Air Force.
Launch with Heavy & # 39; s new Army-certified Falcon 9 engines was crucial in the race with Boeing-Lockheed venture United Launch Alliance and Jeff Bezos & # 39; Blue Origin as Musk & # 39; s SpaceX, working on flight-Try it rocket ship fleet one mission at a time, wants to place a third of all US National Security Space missions – coveted military contracts worth billions.
The US Air Force was ticking SpaceX in 2018, he launched a classified military satellite for $ 130 million and added three more missions to a $ 297 million contract in February.
SpaceX and Boeing Co. are vying to send people from the US to space for the first time in almost a decade under NASA & # 39; s commercial Crew program. SpaceX& # 39; S Crew Dragon capsule, on top of a Falcon 9 rocket ship, released his first unmanned test flight in March for the manned mission scheduled for July, while the first unmanned test for the Starliner capsule from Boeing is scheduled for August at ULA & # 39; s Atlas 5 rocket ship.
Falcon Heavy carried a communication satellite for the Saudi telecom company Arabsat, which broadcasts internet and television services across Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Privately owned SpaceX, also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., was founded in 2002 by Musk, who is also co-founder of electric car manufacturer Tesla Inc.