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A Falcon Heavy's engines ignite. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket just launched for the third time, lofting 24 payloads for the Air Force, NASA, NOAA and a variety of universities to orbit as part of a rocket ride share.

Why it matters: Ahead of the launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in a tweet that this Falcon Heavy launch would be the "most difficult launch ever." If those stakes weren't high enough, this also marked the first time the Air Force has flown its wares to space aboard a Falcon Heavy.

The Falcon Heavy’s 2 side boosters — which have both been flown on a previous Falcon Heavy launch — landed back on land, while the core booster just missed a waiting drone ship off the Florida coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Details: The two-dozen spacecraft loaded into the Falcon Heavy were designed for a number of technology demonstrations and experiments. Some of the more notable spacecraft include:

  • The Planetary Society's LightSail 2, which will be unfurled in July and, if all goes according to plan, should use its light sail to maneuver through space on the force of the Sun's photons.
  • COSMIC-2, a clutch of six spacecraft that, once up and running, are expected to improve weather prediction computer models on short time scales, making hurricane and extreme weather prediction more accurate.
  • NASA's Deep Space Atomic Clock, a technology demonstration which is designed to prove out tech that could one day be used to help astronauts navigate on Mars.
  • DSX, operated the Air Force, is designed to gather data about the space environment in its orbit, helping researchers figure out how to best protect future spacecraft from space weather.

Background: This was a big launch for SpaceX not only because of the payloads flying to space, but due to the implications of the flight on Earth.

  • SpaceX is currently competing to be chosen as one of two companies that the Air Force taps to launch expensive national security payloads to orbit through the 2020s.
  • The company recently sued the U.S. government, protesting an earlier monetary award given to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance, which are all competing with SpaceX for the contract as well.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

26 mins ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.