If all goes as planned during Falcon Heavy Flight 2, SpaceX will have successfully returned boosters to its East Coast landing zones after more than 14 months of inactivity, landed a Falcon Heavy center core for the first time ever, and recovered three boosters almost simultaneously after a single launch - also for the first time. The red Roadster - with a mannequin, dubbed Starman, likely still at the wheel - remains in a solar orbit stretching just past Mars.
"T plus 33 seconds into flight, under the power of 5.1 million pounds of thrust, Falcon Heavy is headed to space", SpaceX launch commentator John Insprucker said on a livestream. SpaceX will try to land two of the first-stage boosters back at Cape Canaveral and the core booster on an ocean platform. It will be located at one of Arabsat's orbital positions and will support Arabsat's competitive position as the first operator in the region for satellite capacities and services. The SpaceX launch, which also happened to be the Heavy's second-ever flight, delivered a Saudi Arabian satellite into space.
Introducing a new ultra-powerful rocket has allowed SpaceX to compete directly with arch rival United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, for lucrative government contracts that require heavy-lift launch vehicles.
A Falcon Heavy rocket lofts Arabsat's 6A satellite from Kennedy Space Centre. SpaceX boss Elon Musk tweeted "The Falcons have landed". A third booster landed on a barge in the ocean, something SpaceX hadn't accomplished with the previous Falcon Heavy launch.
The Falcon Heavy made its maiden flight on February 6, 2018.
Two side booster rockets flew back and landed at Cape Canaveral, creating sonic booms heard as far as Orlando. Thursday's launch marks the first time a Block 5 booster was used for the big rocket.
"Everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way that we expected it to", Benjamin Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a live stream from California. The rocket can lift nearly 141,000lbs into orbit, which is more than double the Delta IV Heavy, the next closest operational vehicle. The Falcon Heavy is essentially three of those single rockets strapped together.