SpaceX launches mega rocket year after debut with sports auto

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SpaceX wants to compete with its arch rival in the lucrative business of launching ultra-heavy satellites into space. Since the first successful Falcon 9 land-based and sea-based recoveries in December 2015 and April 2016 respectively, SpaceX has landed Falcon 9 and Heavy boosters 35 times with one complete failure (Falcon Heavy, B1032) and one partial failure (Falcon 9, B1051).

The Thursday April 11 launch marked the first flight of the 230-foot-tall (about 70 meters) rocket with the payload from a paying customer.

The Falcon Heavy's liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center created a spectacle, just as it did during the maiden launch. It said in a tweet that the next launch opportunity is Thursday.

Less than 10 minutes into the flight, the rocket's three boosters detached from the Falcon Heavy on schedule. The modernised LM 2100 includes several innovations that make the satellite more powerful, more flexible and more versatile in orbit.

Beyond that though, the Block 5 upgrades add almost 10 percent more thrust to Falcon Heavy compared with the demo mission past year.

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Until SpaceX came along, rocket boosters were usually discarded in the ocean after satellite launches.

This successful landing of the three rocket parts represents a new step in the trajectory of the company, owned by billionaire busineesman Elon Musk, whose policy is to re-use rockets in order to reduce the cost of space travel.

Elon Musk's Tesla roadster launched from the Falcon Heavy rocket in February 2018 with a dummy driver named Starman. As with past launches, SpaceX livestreamed the launch; the video is available to watch any time below. Shortly after, the rocket's three boosters touched down back on Earth. This was a success following SpaceX's water landing in a similar maneuver a year ago.

The main booster then made a spot-on landing on the SpaceX "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Privately owned SpaceX, also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp, was founded in 2002 by Musk, who is also a co-founder of electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. The satellite is the largest commercial one Lockheed martin has ever produced.

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