SpaceX nails triple booster landing

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center

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 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. During the heavy-lift rocket's debut launch previous year, the first attempt to recover the center core failed.

The US Air Force tapped SpaceX a year ago to launch a classified military satellite for US$130 million (S$176 million), and in February added three missions in a US$297 million contract. Landing a rocket booster back on the ground so it can be refurbished is one thing, but recovering other parts of the spacecraft, such as the nosecone fairing, helps to boost SpaceX's bottom line even more.

Though the Falcon Heavy hasn't flown frequently, the fact that it has launched at all has caught the attention of lawmakers and officials at NASA who recently considered changes to the space agency's long-term exploration plans. NASA is now building its own rocket, the Space Launch System or SLS, to perform that lunar flight, but delays in the vehicle's development prompted NASA officials to consider now available rockets for the job. Extensive modifications to LC-39A have been made to support launches of both commercial and crew missions on SpaceXs Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. And the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful, operational option.

The success of the Falcon Heavy is also paramount considering NASA's recent announcement that this rocket system could be used as a backup for future missions to the Moon, should the SLS not be ready in time.

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You can relive the entire launch and landing via the stream below.

During its first Falcon Heavy launch in February 2018, the firm landed two of the firms side boosters simultaneously on separate launchpads.

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.

Takeoff is scheduled for 6:35PM ET from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX's coverage of the flight should begin around 20 minutes before liftoff.

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