CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — When SpaceX launched its giant Falcon Heavy rocket Tuesday (Feb. 6), President Donald Trump was apparently watching.
In a congratulatory Twitter post, Trump hailed SpaceX and its CEO Elon Musk for the successful Falcon Heavy test flight from here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as a pinnacle of American progress. The rocket is the world's most powerful booster, capable of lifting twice the payload of its nearest competitor, the Delta IV Heavy rocket built by the United Launch Alliance.
"Congratulations @ElonMusk and @SpaceX on the successful #FalconHeavy launch," Trump wrote on Twitter. "This achievement, along with @NASA's commercial and international partners, continues to show American ingenuity at its best!" [In Photos: SpaceX's 1st Falcon Heavy Rocket Test Launch Success!]
SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy rocket lifted off from NASA's historic Launch Pad 39A at KSC, sending Musk's own Tesla Roadster into space with the mannequin "Starman" in the driver's seat. Two of the rocket's three first-stage boosters returned to Earth for a successful landing. The central core crashed into the Atlantic Ocean 100 meters away from its droneship landing pad when only one of three engines ignited in the final landing burn.
After the launch, Musk said the Falcon Heavy launch was a major success, despite the loss of the center core. SpaceX did not plan to reuse that booster, he added.
In December, the Trump administration directed NASA to return astronauts to the moon under the new Space Policy Directive 1. Commercial space companies and international partners will play a role in that effort, according to a memorandum released by the White Houce Dec. 11.
In 2017, Musk initially served on three White House advisory councils, but he quit last May after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord. Musk served on Trump's manufacturing jobs council and infrastructure council, as well as the president's strategic and policy forum.