This Is the Future: SpaceX successfully sends Saudi satellite into orbit

Enlarge Image Falcon Heavy's center core landed on the SpaceX droneship.                  Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser  CNET

The launch also marked the first time SpaceX has managed to bring all three of the rocket's boosters back to Earth successfully after a flight. SpaceX employees at company headquarters in Southern California cheered every launch milestone and especially the three touchdowns.

An unmanned capsule from Elon Musk's SpaceX splashed into the Atlantic Ocean on March 8, successfully completing a mission crucial to NASA's long-delayed quest to resume human space flight from the United States soil later this year.

The first Falcon Heavy's central core missed its landing at the end of last year's mission, due to the fact that it ran out of ignition fluid before the final engine burn.

The launch took place from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center this evening. It was carrying Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster with the crash dummy Starman at the wheel.

The auto is now on an orbit circle that takes it beyond Mars and into Earth's orbit when it's closest to the Sun (the cycle takes around 557 days).

The short-notice solicitation, posted on February 13, "provides flexibility and back-up capability" as the companies build their rocket-and-capsule launch systems.

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SpaceX's reusable designs make the Falcon Heavy an appealing way to get large payloads into space. The boosters for that flight may be recycled from this one.

Weather in the Atlantic is now about as good as could be expected, with minimal waves and low winds, excellent conditions for the safe recovery of Falcon Heavy's center core - likely B1055 - and Version 2 payload fairing halves.

Since the Falcon Heavy made its debut in 2018, SpaceX has received several orders for launches, including a US$130 million contract to carry a satellite for the US Air Force.

That was back when SpaceX was still expected to test Falcon Heavy later that same year. The company is intent on driving down launch costs by recycling rocket parts.

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.

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