Published: Tue, June 25, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Watch Falcon Heavy rocket take off

Watch Falcon Heavy rocket take off

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 craft blasted off to cheers from onlookers at 2:30 a.m. after a three-hour delay from the original launch time late Monday (June 24). The Falcon rocket scheduled to launch later this evening has a payload military and scientific research satellites.

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Today's launch was the first Falcon Heavy to fly reused boosters; the two side boosters had already flown as part of the first commercial Falcon Heavy launch, which lofted a communications satellite called Arabsat-6A, in April. The core landed but they lost it to the rough seas.

Prior to launch Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, was calling this one of the most hard missions SpaceX has ever performed.

The satellites will orbit Earth near the equator, taking measurements of the tropics and subtropics, and monitoring the ionosphere for the effects of solar storms. The complicated delivery pattern also dictated the night-launch window, Air Force officials confirmed before the launch.

The Deep Space Atomic Clock by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a technology demo aimed at self-flying spacecraft.

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The clock is meant to help spacecraft navigate by themselves when far from Earth. They are created to measure atmospheric distortion of satellite signals to improve severe weather forecasting.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy demonstration launch on February 6, 2018.

But this morning's launch wasn't just about government payloads.

The remaining Falcon 9 first stage continued its burn for another minute before it too was shut down and separated from the second stage of the Falcon Heavy. Also tucked into the Falcon Heavy was a satellite designed and built by the nonprofit organization The Planetary Society.

The LightSail is a crowdfunded project that aims to become the first spacecraft in earth orbit propelled exclusively by sunlight, the society, which has championed solar propulsion for decades, says on its website. The total mission is expected to last six hours.

As is the norm for SpaceX launches, the whole event is going to be streamed live online for all to see.

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