Mars boost: Successful launch for Elon Musk's reusable Falcon Heavy rocket

Elon Musk says SpaceX has recovered BOTH rocket fairings from ocean undamaged and will reuse them

In a tweet late Thursday, Musk confirmed that both fairing halves were recovered from the Atlantic Ocean undamaged.

SpaceX has tried to recover payload fairings during previous launches but to no avail.

Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon Heavy launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying a satellite into orbit for Saudi Arabian company Arabsat.

Unfortunately, the fairing halves have proven hard to recover.

The middle booster, after pushing the payload into space, returned almost 10 minutes later for a successful landing on SpaceX's seafaring drone ship 400 miles (645 km) off the Florida coast. This came just 14 months after the inaugural launch that saw the rocket successfully send a Tesla Roadster (with Spaceman) into orbit, followed by the retrieval of two of its boosters afterward - which pulled off a near-synchronous landing!

Musk has sought to recover and reuse the fairings for additional launches because they're expensive to build.

SpaceX constructed a boat with a massive net attached, affectionately called Mr. Steven (pictured), to try to recover the fairings. These boosters have been part of the Falcon 9 rocket for nearly a year and offer better thrust, improved landing legs and other features that make retrieval easier. With this deployment the Falcon Heavy, created with the goal of sending manned missions to the Moon and Mars, has successfully completed its first commercial mission.

The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket at work today. 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.

Besides being the Falcon Heavy's commercial debut, yesterday's launch was also the first time that the Falcon Heavy flew with the upgraded "Block 5" boosters.

Liftoff with Heavy's new military-certified Falcon 9 engines was crucial in the race with Boeing-Lockheed venture United Launch Alliance and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin as Musk's SpaceX, working to flight-prove its rocket fleet one mission at a time, aims to clinch a third of all US National Security Space missions - coveted military contracts worth billions.

It took off, delivered a satellite into orbit and then, incredibly, landed all three of its booster rockets back to Earth.

The payload fairings are clam shell-like nose cone halves that protect the craft's payload.

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



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