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 launched its 12th Falcon 9 rocket of the year Thursday from California with Taiwan’s Formosat 5 Earth observation satellite. The two-stage rocket lifted off at 11:51 a.m. PDT (2:51 p.m. EDT; 1851 GMT) and deployed the Taiwanese-built spacecraft into polar orbit. The Falcon 9’s first stage booster successfully landed on a drone ship downrange in the Pacific Ocean.