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.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.