SpaceX nails triple rocket landing following Falcon Heavy's first commercial launch
SpaceX made history today as it not only successfully flew is Falcon Heavy rocket on its first commercial mission, but also recovered all three of the first-stage boosters for the first time. The Arabsat-6A mission to send a high-capacity telecommunications satellite into geosynchronous orbit is the second flight of the Falcon Heavy, which is the most powerful rocket currently operating and the fourth most powerful ever built.
Today's launch came a day after the original flight was scrubbed because of high shear winds at the launch site. Arabsat-6A lifted off at 6:35 pm EDT (22:35 GMT) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch occurred without any major technical malfunctions and delivered its payload into its transfer orbit 34 minutes into the flight.
As the second stage coasted over the night side of the Earth, the three Falcon boosters that make up the first stage of the rocket carried out a complex de-orbiting maneuver that sent the two side boosters back to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, where they made a successful, near-simultaneous ground landing. Meanwhile, the core booster, which flew higher and farther downrange than the other two, deorbited and made a dramatic landing on the deck of the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You," which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
This booster recovery is the first time all three first stage units have managed to land safely. During the Falcon Heavy's maiden flight in 2018, the two side boosters were recovered, but the core booster crashed when three of the engines failed, causing it to crash into the sea at 300 mph (483 km/h).
The video below is a replay of the launch live stream.