SpaceX successfully launches Falcon Heavy

Falcon Heavy a few seconds after liftoff.
Image credit: SpaceX

Last week, Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully completed the launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket, the heavy-lift orbital vehicle, from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Following its first test launch, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is now the most powerful operational rocket in the world, able to lift nearly 64 metric tonnes into orbit (a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel) – more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.

The Falcon Heavy’s first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 22MN at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit.

On 12 February, Musk revealed that the reason that the centre core booster didn't land on a floating sea platform as planned was because it ran out of ignition fluid.

After Musk launched a Tesla into space to the tune of David Bowie’s Space
Oddity, someone made the connection with David Bowie playing Nikola Tesla
in the 2006 film ‘The Prestige’.

Image credit: knowyourmeme

Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.

SpaceX’s payload for this mission included a red Roadster destined for an Earth-Mars orbit, with a dummy on board wearing SpaceX’s new crew suit for its first astronaut missions, and a data storage device with Isaac Asimov’s classic space trilogy loaded up.

Falcon Heavy Test Flight
SpaceX’s historic Falcon Heavy launch was streamed live from Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39A at 13:30 EST on 5 February 2018.
Video credit: SpaceX

13 Feb 2018

By Robyn Grimsley
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