Falcon Heavy liftoff - Grab this as a poster
On 6 February 2018, SpaceX completed the first successful launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket.
With a total thrust of over 5 million pounds, it's the most powerful rocket in use today by a factor of two.
Compared to other big rockets in history, it ranks third after the Space shuttle and the Saturn-V (both about 7.8 million pounds of thrust).
Falcon Heavy Flight Plan
Here is what was initially planned:
SpaceX executed this plan almost perfectly: liftoff, payload deployment and side cores recovery.
Only the center core didn't make it's way back to the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You" that was waiting about 300 miles off the Florida coast.
Falcon Heavy Side Core Landing
After separating from the center core, the side boosters starting making their way back to Earth.
They set course for Landing Zone 1 and 2 at Cape Canaveral, where they landed simultaneous. Giving us this amazing shot:
Landing of the side cores at Cape Canaveral - Grab this photo on a poster
Falcon Heavy Test Flight Payload
With new launches, the engineering team often send to study the physics for future (customer) launches.
From idea to execution:
Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 2, 2017
Starman in his Roadstar overlooking Earth
For this test flight, a red Tesla was picked, with Starman behind the wheel.
Starman sports the Crew Dragon which offers an another opportunity for testing how it behaves in space.
The vehicle is equipped with a number of cameras, which you can follow via this YouTube stream.
Falcon Heavy Design
In it's essence, the Falcon Heavy are three Falcon 9 packed together, giving it a total of 27 engines.
In practice, controlling three rockets firing simultaneously, and making sure the structural integrity remains solid added a lot of complexity to it.
This was a big part of the continued delays. The Falcon Heavy maiden flight was first planned for 2013. But a number of technological setbacks lead the launch to be pushed back about 5 years.
After this demonstration flight, SpaceX will start using it to deploy satellites for its clients in the coming months.
Because the Falcon Heavy is so powerful, it will also be using for coming missions to the Moon and Mars. One Apollo 8 style roundtrip around the Moon using the Falcon Heavy has been planned for late 2018.
A manned tourist mission is even slated for 2019. So let's see what the future holds!
Discover the following posters:
- Falcon Heavy Launch Poster
- Falcon Heavy Side Cores Landing Poster
- SpaceX poster collection