May 21, 2018

SpaceX Falcon Heavy: What's Up with the Giant Rocket?

07 February 2018, 12:46 | Kenneth Drake

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SpaceX will TRY to launch the most powerful rocket in almost half a century Tuesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. and we say TRY because Elon had previously said there's a good chance the Falcon Heavy rocket won't survive the liftoff.

Elon Musk is crossing his fingers (and probably his toes, too) as SpaceX sets to launch the powerful Falcon Heavy rocket. and TMZ will be streaming live.

Significantly, the launch took place from the famed Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, the same launch pad that saw Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins fired at the Moon in July 1969.

In theory, the 230-foot-tall (70 meters) rocket could carry 140,700 lbs.

"Falcon Heavy can launch about 64 tonnes into low Earth orbit, now that's alost a factor three more than the current running biggest launch vehicle, Delta IV Heavy", astrophysicist David Clements from Imperial College told Al Jazeera. "If we're successful in this, it is game over for all other heavy-lift rockets".

"This is a test mission, so we don't want to set expectations of perfection", Musk said on a call with reporters Monday ahead of the planned demonstration flight from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For starters, the company did a bit of recycling.

The Falcon Heavy is essentially three Falcon 9 rockets in one, with a total of 27 Merlin engines. Musk has said the central core needed "to be buffed up a lot" but the Falcon 9 cores on each side "use most of the same airframe". These three cores, which are connected at the base and the top of the center core's liquid oxygen tank, make up the rocket's first stage, at the bottom of the rocket. In the shadow of the largest single story-building in the world, NASA's towering Vehicle Assembly Building, and in front of the agency's iconic ticking countdown clock, onlookers gasped as cloud plumes quietly billowed out from beneath the Falcon Heavy.

Delta IV Heavy: 2 million pounds of force (8.7 million newtons). (The space shuttle also had more liftoff thrust, but less payload capability, because the majority of the push moved into lifting the orbiter.) It is also the first time that a commercial firm has developed such a massive rocket without any government funding. "Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9".

The rocket's two side boosters shut down, then separated as expected less than three minutes into the flight.

The 2008 Tesla Roadster's equipped with three cameras, so it may be able to take some pretty epic interstellar selfies, if it makes it into its planned elliptical orbit, which will loop the auto between Mars and the sun.

As for what happens to those boosters? Two touched down on land, and the plan for the third was for it to settle back on an unmanned drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

If radiation doesn't zap the electronics of the upper-stage rocket, its engines will fire up, accelerate Musk's Roadster to about 24,600 miles per hour, and inject it into orbit that will loop indefinitely between Earth and Mars.

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