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SpaceX's Falcon Heavy conducts first commercial flight

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy conducts first commercial flight

The launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy heavy-lift vehicle is a major success for the USA space industry but Russia is also developing its own launch vehicles with reusable elements, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said on Friday.

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying a communication satellite lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, April 11, 2019.

Two side booster rockets flew back and landed at Cape Canaveral, creating sonic booms heard as far as Orlando.

Until SpaceX came along, rocket boosters were usually discarded in the ocean after satellite launches.

The rocket's payload, Arabsat-6A, will be released 34 minutes into the journey. "Built on Lockheed Martin's enhanced LM 2100 platform, Arabsat-6A includes several innovations that provide advanced Kaspot beam communications services and Ku and Ka-band coverages in addition to other frequency bands".

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SpaceX's launch livestream will go live approximately 20 minutes before liftoff, now scheduled for no earlier than 8pm ET (00:00 UTC, April 11). It will be just the second time a Falcon Heavy soars.

When the Falcon boosters return, the two side boosters descend together, side-by-side - coming back to their own landing zones as if you had been watching the flight on rewind. It went off without a hitch.

Landing rockets has become routine for SpaceX. This was a success following SpaceX's water landing in a similar maneuver past year. Now, it's landing three boosters in a single mission, one of which is in the middle of the ocean. These rockets are optimized for reusability, offering quicker turnarounds for refurbishment and re-flight. SpaceX is expected to attempt to land all three this week.

The rocket will be able to lift 64 tons into orbit, doubling the lift capacity of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost, the company said.

The next SpaceX mission from Florida, CRS-17, was recently announced for 5:55 a.m. April 26. The side boosters from yesterday's launch are slated to be reused for that mission.