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.
On its second flight, SpaceX’s mammoth Falcon Heavy rocket hurled an Arabsat communications satellite the size of a school bus nearly one-quarter the way to the moon Thursday, days after NASA’s administrator identified the privately-developed rocket as a backup to the agency’s behind-schedule Space Launch System for sending astronauts back to the lunar surface.