Giant SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket Launches for First Time in Three Years
The world’s largest operational rocket provided an extra treat on Nov. 1, the morning after Halloween, with the first Falcon Heavy launch since 2019 flying off from Cape Canaveral in Florida under a still eerie blanket of fog.
Less than 10 minutes after launch, the rocket’s side boosters returned for a successful, near-simultaneous landing not far from the launch pad. The central core booster was removed in the ocean after a classified payload headed for orbit for the US Space Force.
The Falcon Heavy mission called USSF 44 launched from pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:43 a.m. ET (6:43 a.m. PT) with a military microsatellite prototype called TETRA-1 and a larger, unconfirmed satellite.
The mission was originally scheduled for 2020, but undisclosed payload issues have delayed the mission several times.
Not long after SpaceX’s big triple rocket first took off in 2018, it seemed to be forgotten in the hype surrounding Elon Musk’s even bigger one. spaceship rocket and its companion Super Heavy booster, which NASA hopes will take astronauts to the moon and which Musk dreams of using to build a society on Mars.
But the most power in the SpaceX garage that has actually made it to space is still the Falcon Heavy. His first flight sent a Tesla to the red planet in 2018. It flew two more times, both in 2019.
Falcon Heavy is essentially three Falcon 9 boosters strapped together for three times the thrust. Although the configuration is less powerful than NASA’s delayed Artemis I Space Launch System or the Starship and Super Heavy will eventually be, it is currently the most powerful operational rocket in the world.
You can watch the launch above. Due to their classified status, the deployment of the satellites is not streamed.
SpaceX said the landed side boosters could be reused in a future national security mission. That could happen as early as January, though another Falcon Heavy commercial satellite launch is set to take place as early as December.
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