SpaceX launches first Falcon Heavy mission since 2019 from Florida

SpaceX launches first Falcon Heavy mission since 2019 from Florida

Nov 1 (Reuters) – SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful active rocket, took off on Tuesday for the first time in more than three years through dense fog at Cape Canaveral, Florida, as Elon Musk’s company sent satellites into orbit for the U.S. Space Force.

The rocket system, which consists of three Falcon 9 boosters attached side by side, lifted off from a SpaceX launch pad, with two Space Force satellites and a group of smaller satellites heading into orbit. The space force did not provide details about its satellites and requested that SpaceX end the live broadcast early without showing their deployment.

The mission, the first Falcon Heavy launch since June 2019, has been delayed by the space force for years, according to SpaceX officials. The rocket’s 2018 debut sent a red sports car from Elon Musk’s other company, Tesla, into space as a test payload.

Tuesday’s mission marked the first use of the rocket by the Space Force, the US military branch created under former President Donald Trump to oversee much of the Pentagon’s defense activities in space.

About three minutes after launch, the Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters synchronously separated from the rocket core about 47 miles (29 km) above the ground, diving backward for a supersonic free fall toward land.

Minutes later, a pair of boosters, each about five stories tall, reignited their engines and landed almost simultaneously on adjacent concrete slabs, prompting thunderous applause from engineers at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, the company’s live broadcast showed.

The booster core did not attempt to land and used all of its fuel to carry the satellites further into space.

SpaceX and its CEO Musk, a billionaire entrepreneur whose universe of high-tech companies now includes social media giant Twitter, have focused heavily in recent years on developing Starship, a larger reusable rocket that should eventually succeed the company’s Falcon fleet.

SpaceX hopes to launch starship into orbit for the first time in December, NASA officials said Monday.

Reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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