Most powerful rocket takes off on first paid mission

Falcon Heavy lifted off yesterday from Cape Canaveral in Florida and successfully delivered its cargo into orbit

The only blemish during Falcon Heavy's first flight was the fact that its core booster failed to land on SpaceX's drone ship positioned in the ocean. The first two side boosters managed to land eight minutes after launch, touching down nearly simultaneously (again!) on the company's concrete landing pads along the Florida coast.

"Successful deployment of Arabsat-6A to geosynchronous transfer orbit confirmed-completing Falcon Heavy's first commercial mission!" .

After a successful launch that delivered the Arabsat-6A satellite into its planned orbit, SpaceX also succeeded in landing all three of the boosters for their Falcon Heavy rocket - a first for the private space company.

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

Thursday's launch, which had to be postponed from the day before due to weather conditions, is the second since the initial trip in February 2018, when Falcon Heavy made a test flight with as dummy payload a Tesla electric roadster sent into deep space with a mannequin dressed in a space suit, which they called "Starman", in the driver's seat.

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And that wasn't the only first for SpaceX.

SpaceX has two operational rockets: the Falcon 9, which with 21 launches in 2018 dominates the USA market, and the Falcon Heavy, which as its name suggests is created to lift much heavier payloads into more distant orbits.

SpaceX tries to re-use rockets, payload fairings, boosters and other parts to try to cut down on the cost of each rocket mission. The company selected the Falcon Heavy for this launch back in 2015 since its extra lift capability meant that the satellite could be placed in a much higher transfer orbit, which will ensure a longer service life.

The space company has previously re-used first-stage and second-stage rocket boosters, in addition to one of its previously flown Dragon capsules. Falcon Heavy's center core landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. While many SpaceX fairings have been pulled from the water over the years and put back into service, the ultimate goal is to avoid having to refurbish the components to deal with corrosion caused by salt water - which is expensive and time-consuming.

SpaceX is now testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets.

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