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.
SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy launch for the U.S. Air Force took a major step closer to liftoff with a hold-down engine firing Wednesday night at launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff with a cluster of experimental satellites and weather monitoring craft is set for June 24.
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk said Thursday that the company’s recovery fleet in the Atlantic Ocean recovered the two halves of the Falcon Heavy’s payload shroud after the heavy-lifter’s second launch from the Kennedy Space Center. Musk said the company plans to reuse the fairing for the first time later this year.