At 34 minutes after takeoff, the Arabsat-6A satellite was deployed to orbit in what was the Falcon Heavy's first commercial mission. Eight minutes after takeoff, SpaceX landed two of the first-stage boosters side-by-side back at the Florida site, while the core booster landed two minutes later on an ocean platform offshore, Fox News noted. The side boosters landed nearly simultaneously at Landing Zones 1 and 2, and the center stage came back down shortly after that on the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You".
The US Air Force tapped SpaceX in 2018 to launch for $130 million a classified military satellite, and in February added three more missions in a $297 million contract.
What is all the more awesome about this engineering effort, however, is that the world's largest rocket does not just launch into space.
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. According to CEO Elon Musk, B1032 had run out of the TEA/TEB (triethylaluminum + triethylboron) fluid used to ignite its Merlin engines, although why the booster ran out of it prematurely is unknown. The red Roadster - with a mannequin at the wheel - remains in a solar orbit stretching just past Mars. Now, it's landing three boosters in a single mission, one of which is in the middle of the ocean. As with past launches, SpaceX livestreamed the launch; the video is available to watch any time below. SpaceX is expected to attempt to land all three this week.
Lockheed Martin built the satellite, along with a second one, for Arabsat as part of a batch of contracts worth $650 million.
The launch of Arabsat-6A was only the second flight for the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.
That was back when SpaceX was still expected to test Falcon Heavy later that same year.
Enlarge / The Falcon Heavy fires its 27 engines on the way to space. Falcon Heavy only has five missions on its manifest so far.