SpaceX’s third Falcon Heavy rocket took off from the Kennedy Space Center in a predawn launch Tuesday, delivering two dozen research and weather observation spacecraft into orbit on a marathon three-and-a-half mission for the U.S. Air Force. The mission included the successful landing of the Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters back at Cape Canaveral, and a SpaceX recovery boat netted part of the rocket’s payload fairing for the first time.
This video replay shows the liftoff of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with 5.1 million pounds of thrust, followed by the nearby landing of the launcher’s twin side boosters nine minutes later. The rocket’s center core missed a landing attempt on SpaceX’s offshore drone ship.
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket rolled out of its hangar and up the ramp to pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, then was raised vertical at the seaside launch complex early Monday in preparation for a late-night liftoff with two dozen weather observation and technology demonstration satellites.
Russian commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian co-pilot David Saint-Jacques and NASA flight engineer Anne McClain closed out a 204-day mission in orbit Monday with an undocking from the International Space Station at 7:25 p.m. EDT (2325 GMT), followed by landing in Kazakhstan aboard their Soyuz MS-11 capsule at 10:47 p.m. EDT (0247 GMT Tuesday).
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:30 a.m. EDT (0630 GMT) to begin a three-and-a-half hour mission to deliver two dozen satellites into three distinct orbits. The Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters returned to Cape Canaveral for successful landings, but the center core stage crashed during a landing attempt on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.