SpaceX launches first Falcon Heavy mission in three years

(Reuters) -SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, the world’s most-powerful active rocket, lifted off for the first time in more than three years on Tuesday from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, with Elon Musk’s company sending a group of satellites into orbit for the U.S. Space Force.

The rocket system, representing three Falcon 9 boosters strapped side-by-side, lifted off at a SpaceX launch pad through dense fog. Two satellites from the U.S. Space Force and a group of smaller satellites were bound for orbit.

The vehicle’s two side boosters separated from the rocket’s core stage in synchrony about 47 miles (29 km) above ground, diving backwards for a supersonic free-fall toward land.

Minutes later, the pair of boosters, each some five stories tall, reignited their engines and landed almost simultaneously on adjacent concrete slabs, drawing roaring applause from engineers inside SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, a company live stream showed.

The core booster did not attempt to land and used the entirety of its fuel to blast the satellites further into space.

The Falcon Heavy mission was the first since June 2019, with SpaceX having launched more than 100 missions using its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket since then.

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