SpaceX Does it Again with Second Retrieval of Falcon Heavy Rocket

Katie Ramirez
April 14, 2019

This successful mission follows last year's first launch - a test that saw billionaire SpaceX boss Elon Musk send his own auto into orbit.

The ability to retrieve payload fairings is the latest step in SpaceX's creation of rocket systems that are entirely reusable.

The company even constructed a boat with a massive net attached, affectionately called Mr. Steven, to try to recover the fairings.

But the fairing recovery wasn't the only memorable achievement to come out of yesterday's launch.

After many delays, SpaceX was finally able to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket this week, for just the second time ever.

But today, SpaceX managed to stick all three landings, and it may have helped that all three boosters used for this flight were upgraded versions of SpaceX's rockets, knows as Block 5.

The most powerful operational rocket in the world, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, launched its first commercial mission on Thursday from Florida in a key demonstration for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's space company in the race to grasp lucrative military launch contracts. The first time Falcon Heavy flew, back in February of 2018, only the two outer cores made it back to Earth in one piece.

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SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy and lands all three rocket boosters for the first time.

The success of the Falcon Heavy is also paramount considering NASA's recent announcement that this rocket system could be used as a backup for future missions to the Moon, should the SLS not be ready in time. The company selected the Falcon Heavy for this launch back in 2015 since its extra lift capability meant that the satellite could be placed in a much higher transfer orbit, which will ensure a longer service life.

The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m).

The Dragon spacecraft are used as the final stage of SpaceX missions to resupply the International Space Station.

It took off, delivered a satellite into orbit and then, incredibly, landed all three of its booster rockets back to Earth. On top of that, Musk tweeted at 6:31 p.m. PDT (09:31 p.m. EDT) that the two payload fairings (aka. the nose cone) had been successfully retrieved at sea.

SpaceX recovered a payload fairing for the first time in 2017. The middle booster, after pushing the payload into space, returned almost 10 minutes later for a successful landing on SpaceX's seafaring drone ship 645km off Florida.

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