SpaceX launched its mighty Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday morning in a mission that deployed two classified satellites for the U.S. Space Force.
Mission USSF-44 got underway from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:41 a.m. ET in what was only the fourth launch for the Falcon Heavy, and its first since 2019.
The Falcon Heavy is the world’s strongest operational rocket and comprises SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket because the core booster, plus two additional Falcon 9 boosters attached to either side of the core.
Around eight minutes after launch, the 2 side boosters returned as planned, making an ideal touchdown on the Kennedy Space Center a brief distance from the launchpad. This was the primary launch and landing of those particular boosters, which shall be prepared for re-flight on one other U.S. Space Force mission later this yr. The Falcon Heavy’s core booster was not recovered.
SpaceX livestreamed much of the mission, though because the flight handled classified satellites, the video feed was cut soon after stage separation.
Fog enveloped the Kennedy Space Center on the time of launch on Tuesday morning, however the Falcon Heavy quickly climbed above the clouds as its three boosters and 27 Merlin engines powering the rocket to space.
Two-and-a-half minutes into the flight, the 2 side boosters separated from the core booster.
About 90 seconds later, the stream showed stage separation high above Earth.
As planned, the 2 side boosters returned to Earth and landed upright around eight minutes after departing the launch site.
With the Falcon Heavy mission now out of the way in which, SpaceX engineers shall be turning their attention to the maiden launch of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket, which incorporates the Super Heavy booster.
When it gets airborne, the Super Heavy will develop into essentially the most powerful rocket to have ever flown when it comes to thrust, which can reach 17 million kilos at launch — greater than 3 times that of the Falcon Heavy.
The Super Heavy could take its first test flight later this month or a while in December.