Falcon 9 launches Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 25, 2017.
Credit: SpaceX/Facebook/NASA The Falcon 9 rocket carrying SpaceX’s next-generation Falcon Heavy rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday (April 25) and landed safely at the ISS on April 27, 2017, marking the company’s first landing of the vehicle on a spacecraft.
SpaceX has delivered Falcon Heavy to NASA for testing in the past, but the first stage was not used for a resupply mission until Tuesday.
SpaceX had been planning to land its next Falcon Heavy at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, but after the launch, it decided to test the first stages before returning them to SpaceX’s factory for the final stages to be installed at Kennedy.
The test flights were conducted on the first day of the company-sanctioned resupplies mission.
The Falcon Heavy is expected to provide SpaceX with a substantial boost to its spaceflight business, but its future mission is uncertain.
On Monday, SpaceX said it would test the Falcon Heavy on the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The company expects to launch a test launch in the second half of 2018, and a final launch is slated for 2019.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 booster, known as the first-stage booster, is an upgraded version of the first one that SpaceX launched in January, using a liquid oxygen and methane liquid rocket engine and a new upper stage.
SpaceX’s rocket also used an upgraded cryogenic upper stage that was more efficient, according to the company.
The booster was originally supposed to launch from Cape Canaveral in 2018, but that mission was postponed after the first Falcon Heavy booster failed to land on a drone ship.
The last Falcon Heavy test flight was on April 14, 2017 from Cape Kennedy, when the booster fell short of the drone ship, causing it to crash in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX is expected back at Cape Canaveral for more tests in 2018 and 2019.
But it also plans to conduct a few more flights in the 2020s and 2021, according forays into space tourism.
The mission will also mark the first time that SpaceX is using the company rocket to launch payloads into orbit, as well as the company being able to launch satellites and cargo into orbit.