The world’s largest operational rocket delivered an extra treat the morning after Halloween on Nov. 1, when the first Falcon Heavy launch since 2019 blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, under an even more eerie fog.
Less than 10 minutes after liftoff, the rocket’s side boosters successfully returned to near-simultaneous landings far from the launch pad. The central core booster was disposed of at sea after delivering a classified payload en route to orbit by the US Space Force.
The Falcon Heavy mission, named USSF 44, launched at 9:43 a.m. ET (6:43 a.m. PT) from Pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, carrying a military micro-satellite prototype called TETRA-1 and a larger, unstabilized satellite.
The mission was originally planned for 2020, but undisclosed payload issues have delayed it several times.
Not long after SpaceX’s big triple rocket landed for the first time in 2018, Elon Musk seemed to have forgotten about it in an even bigger promotion.The rocket and its accompanying super-heavy booster, which NASA hopes will return astronauts to the moon and Musk dreams of building a community on Mars.
But the biggest muscle in the SpaceX garage that actually went into space was still the Falcon Heavy. Its first flight. It flew two more times, both in 2019.
The Falcon Heavy is basically three Falcon 9 boosters triple thrusted together. Although the configuration is less powerful than NASA’s late Artemis I Space Launch System or Starship and Super Heavy, it is currently the world’s most powerful operational rocket.
You can see the output again above. Due to their classified status, the deployment of the satellites is not streamed.
SpaceX said the landed side boosters could be reused in a future national security mission. This could happen as early as January, although another Falcon Heavy launch of a commercial satellite is scheduled for December.