SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful active rocket, took off for the first time since 2019 on Tuesday amid thick clouds at Florida’s Cape Canaveral, with Elon Musk’s business launching satellites for the United States Space Force.
The rocket system, comprised of three Falcon 9 boosters mounted side by side, lifted off from a SpaceX launch pad, carrying two Space Force satellites and a slew of smaller satellites into orbit.
According to SpaceX officials, the mission, the first Falcon Heavy launch since June 2019, had been delayed for years by Space Force. In 2018, the rocket launched a red sports car from Elon Musk’s other company, Tesla, into orbit as a test payload.
The rocket was launched for the first time on Tuesday by the Space Force, a branch of the U.S. military established by former President Donald Trump to oversee the majority of the Pentagon’s space defense missions.
About three minutes after launch, the two side boosters of the Falcon Heavy rocket simultaneously separated from the rocket’s core stage at an altitude of 29 kilometers before falling backward in a supersonic free-fall toward the ground.
Minutes later, the two five-story-tall boosters restarted their engines and landed almost simultaneously on neighboringj9 concrete slabs, bringing wild cheers from engineers inside SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, headquarters, according to a company live stream.
Instead of attempting to land, the core booster used all of its fuel to launch the satellites higher into space.
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder and SpaceX CEO, has recently concentrated heavily on building Starship, a bigger and fully reusable rocket that will eventually replace the company’s Falcon fleet.
According to NASA officials, SpaceX plans to put Starship into orbit for the first time in December.