A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Both side boosters were recovered. Florida Today


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center early Tuesday in the program's most challenging mission to date.

The rocket's main engines illuminated the sky at 2:30 a.m. The three-and-a-half hour Department of Defense mission featured 24 spacecraft deployments, three orbit insertions and 20 individual separation events.

There was one hiccup: The rocket's center core failed to land on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship stationed hundreds of miles offshore, as planned. The core was lost as it approached the ship.

Science educator Bill Nye attended the launch. Nye acts as CEO of an organization aiming to use photons from the sun as a way to propel spacecraft.

Here are 16 shots that capture the launch.

Follow Emre Kelly and Grace Hauck on Twitter @EmreKelly and @grace_hauck.

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