SpaceX Successfully Launches Falcon Heavy Test Flight

spacex falcon heavy launch test flight

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).

Relive the most epic moments with this video:

Falcon Heavy Flight Plan

Here is what was initially planned:

spacex falcon heavy flight plan

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:

spacex falcon heavy launch side cores landing

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:

falcon heavy starman in tesla roadstar above earth

 Starman in his Roadstar overlooking Earth - Get this on a poster

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

Falcon Heavy on launch pad39A on the morning of the launch - Get this photo on a poster

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. 

Future launches

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!

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1 comment

  • Great post. It’s nuts how all the sciences come together to get something like this off the ground. The type of materials used has to be fabricated with great precision. I work in a fab shop and we’ve seen one of these ( and it was used to manufacture and treat aircraft parts. I heard that SpaceX had to get one custom built and it’s supposed to be huge.

    Ken Adams

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