Tech Thursday: SpaceX CRS-17 set to launch on 26 April


About two minutes after launch, the boosters separated and the spacecraft and its payload, the Arabsat 6A communications satellite, were on their way to space. The first two side boosters managed to land eight minutes after launch, touching down nearly simultaneously (again!) on the company's concrete landing pads along the Florida coast. But what was especially impressive this time around is the fact that they managed to retrieve all three of the Falcon Heavy's rocket boosters, as well as the payload fairings.

With three boosters with 27 Merlin liquid propellant engines in total, the Falcon Heavy has more than 5 million pounds of thrust-the most for a launch since the Saturn V rocket was last used for Apollo moon missions in the early 1970s. The rocket launched with a cherry-red Tesla Roadster and a mannequin passenger, dubbed Starman, sitting in the driver's seat.

More than 23 storeys in height, the Space X Falcon Heavy packs twice as much power as any other rocket on the Earth.

Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon Heavy launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying a satellite into orbit for Saudi Arabian company Arabsat. Almost half an hour after taking off from Cape Canaveral aboard the Falcon Heavy, the satellite separated from the rocket and was placed in a geo-synchronous orbit where it will remain for years. NASA is now building its own rocket, the Space Launch System or SLS, to perform that lunar flight, but delays in the vehicle's development prompted NASA officials to consider now available rockets for the job. Once the satellite is fully operational, it will offer communications and internet services over the Middle East, Africa and parts of Europe.

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For the Falcon Heavy, SpaceX didn't catch the fairings but did recover them promptly from the ocean. Falcon Heavy's center core landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Since then, the U.S. military and private clients have signed contracts for Falcon Heavy launches, and NASA has raised the possibility it may use the rocket for its planned missions to the Moon.

SpaceX is now testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets.

Two of the boosters landed in Cape Canaveral in Florida and the third booster landed on an off-shore drone ship.