SpaceX Launches With Satellite Payload
CBJ — SpaceX has launched a rocket with 24 research satellites along with a number of other things, including human ashes.
It was the third flight of a Falcon Heavy rocket, but the first ordered by the military.
The U.S. Defence Department mission is expected to provide data to certify the Falcon Heavy — and reused boosters — for future national security launches. It marked the military’s first ride on a recycled rocket.
Both side boosters landed back at Cape Canaveral several minutes after liftoff, just as they did after launching in April. But the new core booster missed an ocean platform, not unexpected for this especially difficult mission, SpaceX noted.
“It was a long shot,” tweeted SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk.
NASA signed up for a spot on this Falcon Heavy, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Planetary Society and Celestis Inc., which offers memorial flights into space.
An astronaut who flew on NASA’s first space station back in the 1970s, Skylab’s Bill Pogue, had a bit of his ashes on board, along with more than 150 other deceased people. Pogue died in 2014.
Musk said it was “our toughest rocket launch ever.” The satellites needed to be placed in three different orbits, requiring multiple upper-stage engine firings. It took several hours to release them all.