SpaceX Launches Falcon Heavy for First Time in Three Years

The ‘world’s most powerful rocket’ carried a satellite load for the U.S. Space Force.

Leaving a spectacular trail across the sky, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:41 a.m. on Tuesday, marking a successful return to the sky for the first time since June 2019. It’s cargo? A clutch of satellites for the U.S. Space Force mission titled USSF-44, for the Innovating and Prototyping Delta program, according to a press release from the Space Systems Command and a report by CNN.

A Partial Recovery

The $90 million Falcon Heavy assembly launches into the atmosphere using a trio of boosters—a central booster and a pair of first-stage boosters. SpaceX decided it would recover the first-stage boosters only, leaving the central booster to remain where it landed in the ocean, out of fuel. The side boosters will be refurbished for another launch for the Space Force, according to the Space Systems Command.

Famously, recent new Twitter owner Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster served as payload for the first Falcon Heavy mission, in 2018. Two other missions took place in 2019, both delivering cargo to space deemed too heavy for the Falcon 9 assembly, which has launched 50 times as of this fall.

The last mission also served to propel satellites into space for the U.S. Space Force, releasing 24 experimental spacecraft into orbit for the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program. “Our launch and mission assurance team and SpaceX, along with the fantastic crew at Space Launch Delta 45, have done an absolutely superb job preparing this rocket,” said Col. Douglas Pentecost, SSC’s Deputy Program Executive Officer for Assured Access to Space, in the release. “We put important national capabilities into space to address the threat, and working together we ensure one hundred percent mission success.”

50 Missions in 2022

The launch marks SpaceX’s 50th successful launch thus far in 2022, according to the company. SpaceX has recovered 151 of the first-stage boosters over the course of the Falcon program.


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