SpaceX lifts 24 satellites into orbit after 'most difficult launch'

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is set to launch for the STP-2 mission on Monday June 24

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is set to launch for the STP-2 mission on Monday June 24

This mission was coordinated by the Defense Department, but the satellites that flew atop Falcon Heavy came from a range of agencies and organizations, including NASA, military research laboratories, and universities.

Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched its Falcon Heavy rocket for the USA military early Tuesday in a spectacular night time liftoff that Musk described as the company's toughest yet. It marked the military's first ride on a recycled rocket.

With the weather cooperating and after dealing with a ground hydraulic issue which cropped up early in the count, SpaceX went ahead with loading the rocket with liquid oxygen, effectively committing the company to a launch or scrubbing for the day. Without enough left-over propellant to make it back to Florida, it headed instead for landing on a SpaceX drone ship - the "Of Course I Still Love You" stationed more than 700 miles to the east of Cape Canaveral.

In its latest audacious mission to retrieve rockets after launch, SpaceX fell just short with its center core booster overshooting the sea-based landing pad, crashing into the water with a fiery explosion. They used a barge called Ms. Tree, outfitted with a huge suspended net, to try and catch the two-piece fairing.

Department of Defense, the key contractor for commercial space companies such as SpaceX. Mr Pogue died in 2014. The charred metal tubes certainly showed signs of their off-world experience hours before launch, but when they ignited it was business as usual for the Heavy.

Prior to the launch, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk described it as "our most hard launch ever".

Also on board for the STP-2 mission: small portions of the cremated remains of 152 space enthusiasts being sent into orbit by their families through Celestis Memorial Spaceflights, a company that provides launch opportunities for clients who opt for burials in space and what the firm's website describes as "a uniquely compelling memorial experience".

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.

SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying 24 experimental satellites in what Elon Musk's rocket company called one of the most hard launches it has attempted.

It's the society's third crack at solar sailing: The first was lost in a Russian rocket failure in 2005, while the second had a successful test flight in 2015.

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