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  • Six, five, four, three, two, one, zero.

  • In position.

  • Remember the Falcon Heavy?

  • SpaceX's megarocket that fired a Tesla up into space in 2018 and its first commercial satellite in early 2019.

  • Well, it's back.

  • This time not with one satellite but 24 of them, in what had been dubbed by SpaceX's CEO, Elon Musk, as its most difficult mission ever.

  • The mission is called Space Test Program-2.

  • It's the first time Falcon Heavy has launched a payload for the US Air Force, but it may not be the last.

  • The rocket blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center.

  • And although this is the rocket's third launch, it's the first with reused rockets.

  • Specifically the two side boosters, which were used on the previous Falcon launch in early 2019.

  • Both side boosters made a simultaneous successful landing back at Kennedy Space Center shortly after takeoff.

  • See it coming towards our two landing pads.

  • See those landing legs deploy.

  • And the plan was that the central core would land on a drone ship 770 miles off the coast of Florida, but it slightly missed its mark and landed in the Atlantic Ocean instead.

  • Pretty good view!

  • But it's not this complex series of rocket-landing attempts that is why Musk called this the most difficult mission yet.

  • It was the complexity of the payload and how SpaceX had to deploy it, because the mission involved not only multiple satellites but multiple orbits.

  • Specifically, three separate orbits, which required four upper-stage engine burns the lasted over six hours.

  • In total, the collection of satellites brought the cost of this mission to an estimated $750 million.

  • Which isn't surprising when you see what this rideshare had on board, including a Deep Space digital atomic clock made by NASA for better space-navigation tracking, an experimental propellant developed by the US Air Force that's safer for humans to handle.

  • And an innovative spacecraft called a LightSail designed by The Planetary Society that's powered by solar rays alone.

  • But it wasn't just scientific instruments SpaceX launched.

  • Attached to the same satellite carrying NASA's atomic clock were the cremated remains of 152 people, including late NASA astronaut Bill Pogue.

  • These were sent up by Celestis Memorial Spaceflights, a company that will launch remains to space starting at nearly $5,000.

  • In all, the successful mission was a huge win for SpaceX because this puts it a step ahead of its competitors for a coveted government contract to launch some of the government's multimillion- to multibillion-dollar equipment.

  • SpaceX will have to beat other competing companies like Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance.

  • But if it wins the contract, it would be a lucrative addition to the Falcon Heavy's already impressive launch manifest.

  • And could mean that we'll see more launches and landings like this one.

Six, five, four, three, two, one, zero.

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