SpaceX carries out first commercial flight

Enlarge Image The SpaceX Falcon Heavy sits on the launchpad in Florida.                  SpaceX

Enlarge Image The SpaceX Falcon Heavy sits on the launchpad in Florida. SpaceX

Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched its massive Falcon Heavy rocket Thursday for Saudi Arabia's Arabsat, the rocket's first mission for a paying customer.

Since SpaceX launched Starman, they have seen a boon in the number of orders for its Falcon Heavy: five contracted missions, three of which are commercial, as well as a $130 million contract to lift the Air Force Space Command-52 satellite.

SpaceX tried to launch the Falcon Heavy rocket on Wednesday, however, high winds forced the company to push the liftoff window to Thursday, April 11.

About eight minutes after liftoff, the reusable rocket's two side boosters landed back on ground near the launch center, showed SpaceX's live broadcast.

Arabsat certainly had reasons to be cheerful, but so did satellite builder Lockheed Martin given that its LM2100 version's second flight had been upgraded with more than 20 significant modifications including new avionics and solar arrays.

SpaceX's launch livestream will go live approximately 20 minutes before liftoff, now scheduled for no earlier than 8pm ET (00:00 UTC, April 11).

The Arabsat-6A mission was also a complete success for SpaceX.

During Falcon Heavy's maiden flight in 2018, its two booster cores made synchronized landings side-by-side in Florida.

This will be the private space company's second launch of the Falcon Heavy.

"The Falcons have landed", Musk tweeted.

NASA's Saturn V rockets, used for the Apollo moon shots, are the all-time launch leaders so far in size and might.

After a six-day mission to the International Space Station, Crew Dragon detached at about 2:30 a.m EST and sped back to earth, reaching hypersonic speeds before an 8:45 a.m. EST splash-down about 200 miles off the Florida coast. But the preferred method remains NASA's own Space Launch System mega rocket - if it can be ready by then. It's the most powerful launch vehicle in service right now, and the $90 price tag is about a third of what United Launch Alliance charges for the Delta IV Heavy.

Almost half an hour after taking off from Cape Canaveral aboard the Falcon Heavy, the satellite separated from the rocket and was placed in a geo-synchronous orbit where it will remain for years.

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