SpaceX successfully launches 'most complicated' Falcon Heavy rocket with 24 payloads

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The Falcon Heavy ended up delivering 24 satellites to a variety of orbits over the course of multiple hours, successfully completing a complicated mission that SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk called the company's toughest ever.

SpaceX has landed and used many of its booster rockets a couple of times, touting their reusability as an effective way to cut the costs of future space travel. It was the third flight of a Falcon Heavy, but the first ordered by the military.

The central core booster, which SpaceX has yet to recover from a Falcon Heavy launch, ultimately missed its mark.

It was the military's first ride on a recycled rocket.

Rocket fairings, which shield satellites during launch but detach after reaching space, are typically left to plummet into a watery grave.

CUNY College of Staten Island's Charles Liu on SpaceX's successful launch and landing of its Falcon 9 rocket. Twelve small "Cubesats" are on board, including one provided by the Planetary Society to test solar sail technology, using the pressure of sunlight for propulsion.

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It transported several new pieces of equipment for NASA, the most interesting being a Deep Space Atomic Clock, which would allow spacecraft to find their way using their own in-built systems. The rocket, which is capable of carrying 63,800 kg worth of payload, will be placing 24 satellites into a low-Earth orbit today.

Lift-off begins from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida during a launch window that opens at 11:30pm EDT Monday (that's Tuesday 25 June 1:30pm AEST for those playing on the Australian East Coast).

The rocket's twin boosters flew back to landing pads at Cape Canaveral, providing a never-before-seen nighttime spectacle, and creating sonic booms in the wee hours of the night.

The US Defence Department mission is expected to provide data to certify the Falcon Heavy - and reused boosters - for future national security launches. Built by students at the Michigan Technological University, Oculus will serve as a target to test techniques for studying satellites from the ground. At that point, the Air Force's Demonstration and Science Experiments - DSX - satellite could be deployed to characterize the space radiation environment and its effects on sensitive electronics. It will also launch from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center.

The gang also conducted spacewalks during the 204-day mission and performed the first in-space editing of DNA.

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