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SpaceX's Falcon Heavy conducts first commercial flight

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy conducts first commercial flight

The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in use today, with 27 engines firing at liftoff - nine per booster.

The massive Falcon Heavy rocket was tested successfully in 2018 when it managed to carry a red Tesla roadster to space.

This time around, the payload was the 13,200-pound Arabsat-6A satellite, which is destined to go into geostationary orbit to provide telecommunications services to the Middle East, Africa and Europe through the Saudi-led Arabsat consortium. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said back on April 5 that because this is the first launch of Falcon Heavy's Block 5, the latest and most powerful version of its boosters, they are being "extra cautious". The rocket's three boosters successfully returned to Earth following the launch.

SpaceX expects the Falcon Heavy launch will be held on Thursday, April 11.

NASA offered swift congratulations, tweeting: "From our iconic launch pads at @NASAKennedy, we will continue to support the growing commercial space economy".

The Falcon Heavy central core booster lands on a drone ship stationed hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic Ocean.

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A Falcon Heavy launch costs $90 million while the price tag for the Delta IV Heavy provided by the United Launch Alliance is considerably steeper at $500 million.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy carrying Arabsat-6A stands ready for launch at Kennedy Space Center.

SpaceX plans to launch its next Falcon Heavy later this year on a mission for the US Air Force.

Falcon Heavy has already been chosen for a few contracts, including a $130 million contract to launch an Air Force satellite that was awarded just four months after its inaugural flight in February 2018.

In Falcon Heavy's first launch, in February 2018, a dummy dubbed Starman was placed behind the wheel of Musk's roadster, which is now orbiting the Sun somewhere between Earth and Mars. This was a success following SpaceX's water landing in a similar maneuver past year.

The boosters have a history of failed landings, both on land and at sea, making the first successful triple landing that much more important. Before the rocket finally launched more than two years later, Musk suggested to several news outlets, including CNN, that the rocket could explode.

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