A sting in the tail: Reusable rockets are at the core of SpaceX's business model, and this launch was the first time the US Defense Department has permitted its hardware to be launched on a used rocket.
SpaceX's third-ever Falcon Heavy rocket launched early Tuesday from Florida, carrying 24 satellites in a complex government mission from Kennedy Space Center.
The rocket which will be transporting the Formosat-7 into space today is the Falcon Heavy, which is comprised of a Falcon 9 rocket in the center combined with two first-stage modular rockets.
The launch was expected to provide data to certify the Falcon Heavy and reused boosters for future national security launches.
The rocket's second stage, meanwhile, pressed ahead toward an initial orbit, the first of three required by the multi-satellite payload.
SpaceX said this was not unexpected for the especially hard mission. After the second launch, the core actually managed to touch down on SpaceX's drone ship but later ended up in the ocean due to rough seas. The faring was captured by a ship at sea called "Ms. Tree".
"This will be our most hard launch ever", SpaceX founder Elon Musktweeted last week.
The satellites have been created by a variety of organisations like NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. government's Department of Defence research labs and lots of different universities.
The boosters fired, returned, and successfully touched down back on Earth about nine minutes after launch in a spectacular synchronized landing in the dark.
Coming along for the ride are 24 satellites that are packed into the Falcon Heavy's nose, which each carry very cool payloads and experiments that will be sent into low orbit. Pogue died in 2014. The final deployment was scheduled to take place more than 3 1/2 hours after the launch.
The clock is meant to help spacecraft navigate by themselves when far from Earth.
The Planetary Society's LightSail crowd-funded spacecraft will attempt to become the first orbiting spacecraft to be propelled exclusively by sunlight. Twelve small "Cubesats" are on board, including one provided by the Planetary Society to test solar sail technology, using the pressure of sunlight for propulsion. At that point, the Air Force's Demonstration and Science Experiments - DSX - satellite could be deployed to characterize the space radiation environment and its effects on sensitive electronics.
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SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch to Mark Several Firsts
The Air Force announced that it had selected the Falcon Heavy to launch its Air Force Space Command-52 (AFSPC-52) satellite. The mission will also involve four second-stage engine burns to take the satellites to their destinations.