SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches its first commercial mission and achieves triple booster landing

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Falcon Heavy Side Boosters landing
The side boosters of Falcon Heavy landing on LZ1 and LZ2 during its first demo launch (Credits - Wikimedia Commons)

The Falcon Heavy rocket of SpaceX which is the most powerful flying vehicle today successfully launched its first commercial mission. It also managed to land all the three rocket boosters successfully. This is after a year when its testing mission landed a red Tesla in space.

This mega rocket took off from the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday from the same launching pad 39A which once hosted the historic NASA’s Apollo missions. The rocket launched the communications satellite, ArabSat-6A, which is intended to provide internet and related communication services to the people from the Middle East, Africa and also some parts of Europe.

Falcon Heavy had to wait for a day due to unfavorable weather conditions at the launch site, but the second flight took off without any problems at the initial stages of the 2 hour launching attempt. A Falcon Heavy rocket comprises of three first stages of Falcon 9 which combines to make the megarocket of 27 engines. The launch featured Block 5 version of its rockets which is an upgrade from the demo launch of Falcon Heavy.

The special appeal of Falcon Heavy is due to its reusable hardware. The rocket boosters are landed back on Earth so that they are refurbished and be fit to use again. This approach can reduce the cost of spaceflight to a great extent. This Block 5 Falcon 9 can fly as many as 9-10 times without any refurbishment between flights which is a massive upgrade from its earlier 2-3 times. This was made possible due to the design changes which were brought by the engineers which included improvement in the engines, a durable interstage( the connecting piece between the two stages of rocket), an enhanced thermal protection method.

In this attempt, two out of three side-boosters landed safely on the grounded pads in Florida while the central third one landed on SpaceX’s platform controlled remotely on the Atlantic Ocean. This is a significant achievement on the side of rocket launch and satellite transmission as the Falcon heavy boasts of twice more power but one third the price of Delta IV Heavy of the United Launch Alliance, which is a joint venture between the Boeing and Lockheed Martin for government contracts which need launch vehicles for heavy lift operations.

Falcon Heavy has been already awarded a $130 million contract for launching satellites of US Air Force, just four months after its initial testing in last year February. The rocket will be primarily used for military missions for the United States and deploying commercial telecommunication satellites.

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