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SpaceX Pulls Off Impressive Feat in Rocket's Commercial Debut

  • Musk-led company lands all three Falcon Heavy boosters
  • Deploys high-capacity telecommunications satellite for Arabsat
People watch as the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida on April 11.

People watch as the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida on April 11.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched its massive Falcon Heavy rocket Thursday for Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat, the rocket’s first mission for a paying customer.

Falcon Heavy rumbled aloft at 6:35 p.m. local time from NASA’s Kennedy Space Station in Florida. SpaceX then recovered all three of the boosters back on Earth, achieving a feat it wasn’t able to pull off in the rocket’s demonstration flight last year. The two side boosters simultaneously returned to land and the center core touched down on a drone ship hundreds of nautical miles out in the Atlantic Ocean.