It's happening! Falcon Heavy maiden flight is LIVE
I know I've been absent for a few days, had some real life stuff to take care of. Any minute now, SpaceX's newest rocket, the largest in existence at the moment, since the Space Shuttle, the Falcon Heavy is due to launch from the upgraded Launchpad 39A, the same one from which the Apollo missions atop the Saturn V and the Space Shuttle launched.
Thus, the 70 meter tall, 12 meter wide rocket generates a total thrust of around 6.9 million Nm when all 27 Merlin engines are engaged, but for this test flight will be throttled to 92% power. With this much power, the more important measure of a rocket is its payload capacity, and this is where the Falcon Heavy truly shines, only outmatched by the Saturn V, which has been retired for decades. If all boosters are not to be recovered, it is capable of carrying 63.8 tonnes of material to LEO (Low Earth Orbit).
In the newest animation SpaceX has released ahead of this launch, and in the photo to the right, you can see the test payload. It is Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster which will be headed to "about the same orbit as Mars", exact details being unknown. But what we do know is that it will be playing David Bowie's A Space Oddity as it becomes the fastest (electric) car in the solar system, capping off at around 11.6 kilometers per second, and traveling a distance of over 400 million kilometers away from Earth. Another thing is that it will have a passenger, albeit not a live one, and that'll be the space suit SpaceX is developing in anticipation for human rated flights in its future Dragon II capsule.
This launch will attempt multiple experimental maneuvers, such as landing all three cores for reuse, two of which have already been flown last year on other mission. Below is a basic timeline of the events we are expected to see. For more information, read SpaceX's official press kit.
- T-0, all 27 engines, 9 for each of the three cores will light up, first the outer cores, then the center core. They will be slightly staggered as to not stress the rocket, but this will not be visible with the naked eye.
- After lift-off, at around 2.5 minutes the outer cores will shut down (BECO) and separate.
- After around 3 minutes of flight, the center core will shut down (MECO) and the boosters will start their boostback burn to land back at LZ-1 and LZ-2.
- At around 6:40 into the flight the reentries of all cores will begin.
- At around the 8 minute mark, the two side cores will attempt to land at LZ-1 and LZ-2, and the center core will attempt a landing at the drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, called Of Course I Still Love You. Meanwhile, the second stage will shutdown (SECO-1).
- After 20 minutes of coasting, it will relight for about 30 seconds.
- From here on out, the mission enters a long coast of about six hours before sending the red sports car to the red planet.
This is a test flight, so I am prepared for the worst and as Elon himself put it, if it clears the launch tower, this is a win. But honestly, I expect more, and am hopeful for a great show today. If this man does anything well, is that he finally made space great again, inspiring people to find worth in human ingenuity and adventure. Thus, I sure hope that all goes well, and the 80% weather green light holds. If you wish to join me, below you have the livestream, which will begin shortly. I will be updating this post, but it most likely will not be live, as I will be glued to the screen. Enjoy!
- Unfortunately, due to upper-level winds, the launch has been pushed back two hours.
- The stream's new start time is in around 100 minutes at the time of writing.
- Livestream has started! Enjoy this historic launch!
- All events, except the core stage landing are confirmed as successful.
- The second stage has entered the coast stage and in around 5 hours it will begin its final burn.
I will be making a more in depth post tomorrow, hopefully we'll have good news regarding that center core landing by then. In the meantime, you can watch Starman, the passenger in the Tesla Roadster that's headed to Mars, below.
Will you be watching live? What are your predictions? What do you hope for the future of space travel and exploration and how do you see SpaceX in this future? Share below, along with any feedback you might have. It is greatly appreciated!
Thank you for reading, and keep on steemin'!
(clicking any image will take you to its source)