SpaceX launches its mighty Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA Space Center in historic mission

SpaceX’s most powerful rocket was launched on a historic mission from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

It was only the Falcon Heavy’s fourth take-off, its first in more than three yearsand saw it fitted with three Falcon 9 boosters.

The boosters, which regularly launch themselves to transport SpaceXStarlink satellites, launched into orbit, were needed to provide their big brother with the thrust needed to reach the stars.

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The rocket a few moments before takeoff…
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…and heading for orbit

Included in the USSF-44 mission payload from Cape Canaveral, Florida were two US Space Force craft, including a microsatellite dubbed TETRA-1, which was created for “various prototype missions”.

The other boat transported is classified.

Payload readiness issues had delayed the launch several times – it was originally scheduled to take place in 2020.

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The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket rolls to Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

How was the launch

The launch began at 9.41am local time (1.41pm in the UK).

Conditions were favorable ahead of the new launch date, with blue skies greeting the rocket as it taxied to Launch Pad 39A on Monday.

Although heavy fog descended on the site on Tuesday morning, it still took off on time.

Just over a minute after launch, the moment of maximum mechanical stress on the rocket was reached – soon after, its two side thrusters had their engines shut down and separated from the main rocket.

The two landed at SpaceX’s landing pads at Cape Canaveral about eight minutes after launch.

The main rocket had then left Earth’s atmosphere, before the payload separated.

“Sonic BOOMS!!” tweeted the boss of SpaceX Elon Musk that the boosters have landed.

“It’s just amazing”

Huge cheers greeted the sight of the boosters landing in Florida, which were fitted with cameras so every moment of their descent could be broadcast from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

“One of them would usually be an entire rocket on its own,” space journalist Kate Arkless Gray told Sky News.

“So this is the 150th and 151st landing that they have managed to make successfully. It’s just amazing.”

The center thruster did not attempt to land, instead using all of its fuel to blast the payload further into space.

One of two side thrusters lands after being launched with a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket as part of its mission with a classified payload for the US Space Force at Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States, November 1, 2022. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
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One of the two side boosters lands in Florida

Musk had retweeted a photo of the rocket being prepared, ahead of what was the company’s most important launch until the Starship mission scheduled for next month.

The company hopes to launch the massive rocket system into orbit for the first time in December – a crucial demonstration as it aims to fly NASA astronauts to the Moon in years to come.

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. SpaceX launches mighty Falcon Heavy rocket NASA Space Center historic mission

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