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SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful active rocket for the first time in three years

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful active rocket, took off Tuesday for the first time in more than three years through dense fog at Cape Canaveral, Florida, as Elon Musk’s company sent satellites into orbit for the US Space Force. .

The rocket system, made up of three Falcon 9 boosters tethered side by side, lifted off from a SpaceX launch pad, with two Space Force satellites and a group of smaller satellites going into orbit. The Space Force did not provide details about its satellites and requested that SpaceX end the launch livestream early without showing their commitment.

The mission, the first Falcon Heavy launch since June 2019, was delayed for years by Space Force, according to SpaceX officials. The rocket’s 2018 debut sent a red sports car from Elon Musk’s other company, Tesla, into space as a test payload.

Tuesday’s mission marked the first use of the rocket by the Space Force, a US military branch created under former President Donald Trump to oversee much of the Pentagon’s defense activities in space.

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About three minutes after launch, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters separated in synchronization from the rocket’s core stage, about 47 miles (29 km) above the ground, and dove backwards for a supersonic free fall toward land.

Minutes later, the two boosters, each some five stories high, restarted their engines and landed almost simultaneously on adjacent concrete slabs, receiving thunderous applause from engineers at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. to a company.

The core booster failed to land and used all of its fuel to blast the satellites further into space.

SpaceX and its CEO Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur whose universe of high-tech companies now includes social media giant Twitter, has spent the past few years developing Starship, a larger and fully reusable rocket that will eventually succeed the company’s Falcon fleet.

SpaceX hopes to launch Starship into orbit for the first time in December, NASA officials said Monday.

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