The new and improved Falcon Heavy thundered into the early evening sky with a communication satellite called Arabsat, the rocket's first paying customer. The SpaceX launch, which also happened to be the Heavy's second-ever flight, delivered a Saudi Arabian satellite into space.
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.
"The Falcons have landed" Elon Musk wrote on Twitter, inaugurating the first successful recovery of all three rocket boosters, which will be refurbished and re-fly in another Falcon Heavy mission this summer to carry a swarm of military and science satellites for the Air Force. Much of the focus this year is on the first flight with humans on board: SpaceX and Boeing Co. have contracts with NASA to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew program.
Privately owned SpaceX, also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp, was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, who is also a co-founder of electric auto maker Tesla Inc. When Arabsat announced the contracts in 2015, it said at the time that it planned to launch the Arabsat 6A satellite aboard Falcon Heavy.
SpaceX tried to launch the Falcon Heavy rocket on Wednesday, however, high winds forced the company to push the liftoff window to Thursday, April 11. It was less than four years ago when it completed the first successful Falcon 9 landing on a Cape Canaveral launch pad.
The so-called Arabsat 6A satellite was placed into an equatorial orbit some 22,000 miles (36,000km) above the Earth.
What is all the more fantastic about this engineering effort, however, is that the world's largest rocket does not just launch into space.