Falcon Heavy launch delayed again, now targeted for Thursday evening

Enlarge Image The SpaceX Falcon Heavy sits on the launchpad in Florida.                  SpaceX

The company, which is owned by billionaire Elon Musk, launched its Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The job is to place the six-tonne Arabsat-6A satellite into geostationary orbit about 36,000km above the Earth.

Its successful landing of the center core from a Falcon Heavy is a relief for SpaceX after a similar attempt ended in disaster previous year.

Roughly three minutes after clearing the launch pad, Falcon Heavy's two side boosters separated from the core rocket for a synchronised landing at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, just like it did for the rocket's debut a year ago. The two side boosters simultaneously returned to land and the center core touched down on a drone ship hundreds of nautical miles out in the Atlantic Ocean.

Thursday's launch was SpaceX's second flight with the Falcon Heavy rocket, which had its first demo mission in February 2018.

Because this was an upgraded version of the rocket with unproven changes, SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk cautioned in advance that things might go wrong.

'Sorry guys', Albon says after stunning crash at Chinese Grand Prix
What we've seen on our tool is that we are losing three-and-a-half tenths on the straights but we're gaining more in the corners. It's always a little bit loose and normally you can recover it, but this time I was a bit greedy with the throttle.

Enlarge / The Falcon Heavy fires its 27 engines on the way to space. This is the same Falcon Heavy that launched a cherry-red Tesla into orbit, giving its driver, Starman, one of the coolest road trips in history.

Privately owned SpaceX, also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp, was founded in 2002 by Musk, who is also a co-founder of electric auto maker Tesla Inc. It's nearly certainly still in orbit around the sun with a mannequin at the wheel. As with past launches, SpaceX livestreamed the launch; the video is available to watch any time below. The boosters for that flight may be recycled from this one.

Falcon Heavy is not expected to fly almost as often as its smaller counterpart, which has completed more than 20 missions since last February. So, the Falcon Heavy can deliver people to the moon and even to Mars.

About 34 minutes after the liftoff, the satellite was deployed into the orbit.

During Falcon Heavy's maiden flight in 2018, its two booster cores made synchronized landings side-by-side in Florida.

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