Falcon Heavy shakes Florida's space coast after a picture perfect launch (With photo gallery)
On Tuesday, February 6th, SpaceX launched their long awaited Falcon Heavy rocket and made history once again. After igniting the side boosters and then the core booster shortly thereafter, the rocket was released from the pad and began to roar to life and rumbled over the entire space coast.
The Falcon Heavy rocket is comprised of 3 Falcon 9 cores strapped together. It isn't as simple as that - the core stage had to be redesigned to withstand the extreme forces being put onto it during flight from the side cores. The side cores have the new titanium grid fins which help the boosters steer down to the landing site at Cape Canaveral. The three cores total 27 Merlin engines and produce approximately 5 Million pounds of thrust at liftoff. The side cores on Falcon Heavy are both flight-proven boosters previously supporting the CRS-9 and Thaicom 8 missions.
After a day full of delays due to upper level wind sheers and "clock management", Falcon Heavy finally launched, pushing toward the end of the launch window. After clearing the pad, Falcon Heavy soared into the party cloudy Florida skies and shook the ground. It successfully passed through Max-Q, the highest aerodynamic stresses on the vehicle, and made it through booster separation without any issues. The side boosters flipped around and boosted back toward the 2 landing zones at Cape Canaveral. The 2 boosters landed back at Landing Zone 1 and Landing Zone 2 at almost the exact same time. The core booster did not have such a fortunate fate, the 2 outer engines, that are supposed to ignite with the center engine, failed to ignite due to a lack of TEA-TEB, which is used to startup the Merlin engines. The core stage then slammed into the water next to the droneship at approximately 300mph, taking out 2 of the engines on the droneship.
Currently, the Tesla roadster, the payload of the first Falcon Heavy launch, has been pushed toward the asteroid belt after the second stage reignited after a 6-hour coast phase. SpaceX has been broadcasting the shots of the mannequin in their official spacesuit "Starman" sitting inside the Tesla as it orbited Earth and the views are stellar.