WASHINGTON, April 11 (Xinhua) -- The world's most powerful operational rocket completed its first commercial launch on Thursday, bringing a Saudi Arabian telecommunications satellite into the orbit.
The Falcon Heavy, developed by the private U.S. space flight company SpaceX, blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. State of Florida at 6:35 p.m. American Eastern Time.
About eight minutes after liftoff, the reusable rocket's two side boosters landed back on ground near the launch center, showed SpaceX's live broadcast.
About two minutes later, its center core landed successfully on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. During the heavy-lift rocket's debut launch last year, the first attempt to recover the center core failed.
About 34 minutes after the liftoff, the satellite was deployed into the orbit.
Arabsat-6A is a high-capacity telecommunications satellite that will deliver television, radio, Internet, and mobile communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
This is Falcon Heavy's second launch. On Feb. 6, 2018, the rocket carried a red Tesla Roadster into space in a demonstration of the rocket's capability in order to get more orders.
With a total of 27 Merlin engines, the Falcon Heavy is capable of generating "more than 5 million pounds (2.3 million kg) of thrust at liftoff, equal to about eighteen 747 aircraft," according to SpaceX.
The rocket will be able to lift 64 tons into orbit, doubling the lift capacity of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost, the company said.