Nov 1 (Reuters) – SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful active rocket, lifted off on Tuesday in dense fog in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for the first time in more than three years. Second, Elon Musk’s company sent satellites to the U.S. orbiting Space Force.
The rocket system, consisting of three Falcon 9 boosters strapped side-by-side, lifts off from a SpaceX launch pad, and two satellites from the Space Force and a set of smaller satellites will enter orbit. The Space Force did not provide details of its satellites and asked SpaceX to end its live broadcast of its launch early without showing its deployment.
The mission, the first Falcon Heavy launch since June 2019, has been delayed by the Space Force for years, according to SpaceX officials. The rocket debuted in 2018, sending a red sports car from Elon Musk’s other company Tesla into space as a test payload.
Tuesday’s mission marked the first use of a rocket by the Space Force, the U.S. military arm under former President Donald Trump that oversees most of the Pentagon’s defense activities in space.
About 3 minutes after launch, the Falcon Heavy’s flanking boosters detached synchronously from the rocket’s core stage at about 47 miles (29 kilometers) above the ground, swooping back in supersonic free-fall toward land.
Minutes later, the pair of boosters, about five stories tall, reignited their engines and landed on an adjacent concrete slab at about the same time, a company live broadcast showed, causing a fire inside SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. The engineers applauded warmly.
Instead of trying to land, the core booster used all of its fuel to propel the satellite further into space.
SpaceX and its CEO Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur whose high-tech companies now include social media giant Twitter, have in recent years focused on developing Starship, a larger and fully reusable rocket, Designed to eventually succeed the company’s Falcon fleet.
SpaceX hopes to send Starship into orbit for the first time in December, NASA officials said on Monday.
Reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham
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