SpaceX launches mega rocket year after debut with sports vehicle

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SpaceX Falcon Heavy sticks the landing in spectacular launch

Falcon Heavy rumbled aloft Thursday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, after wind scuttled an attempt to fly on Wednesday.

This time around, the payload was the 13,200-pound Arabsat-6A satellite, which is destined to go into geostationary orbit to provide telecommunications services to the Middle East, Africa and Europe through the Saudi-led Arabsat consortium.

You can catch the moment the side boosters begin to land from the 26 minute mark in SpaceX's live stream video, while the core booster lands at the 29 minute mark. The red Roadster - with a mannequin at the wheel - remains in a solar orbit stretching just past Mars.

Although the Falcon Heavy has proven itself flight-worthy, this is still just the second launch of a rocket with a staggering 27 engines, so there is definitely some uncertainty.

SpaceX has launched its second supersized rocket from Florida, a year after sending up a sports vehicle on the initial test flight. But that same test also resulted in the core rocket falling into the Atlantic, giving SpaceX a two-of-three success rate that put additional pressure on Thursday's launch to go smoothly.

The rocket is expected to be used primarily for USA military missions, and to launch spy satellites and hefty commercial telecom satellites.

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SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is by far the most powerful operational rocket in the world.

Since then, the USA military and private clients have signed contracts for Falcon Heavy launches, and NASA has raised the possibility it may use the rocket for its planned missions to the Moon. But the middle booster missed a seaborne platform it was created to land on, and instead splashed into the ocean.

Thousands of people came to SpaceX's launch site in Florida to watch the spectacle.

The U.S. Air Force tapped SpaceX in 2018 to launch for $130 million a classified military satellite and in February added three more missions in a $297 million contract.

The job was to place the six-ton Arabsat-6A satellite into geostationary orbit about 22,500 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth.

The satellite is created to provide television, internet, telephone, and secure communications to customers in the Middle East.

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