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Tue, Feb 06, 2018

Falcon Heavy Flies!

Launched From Cape Canaveral At 1545 EDT

SpaceX reached a significant milestone this afternoon with the successful launch of Falcon Heavy carrying Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster as its "mass simulator".

The Falcon Heavy lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 1545 EDT, 15 minutes before the close of its launch window, boosting the roadster into an Earth-Mars orbit around the sun. The rocket lifted into a clear blue sky over the Atlantic Ocean and performed flawlessly in its initial flight.

Three cores make up the first stage of Falcon Heavy. The side cores, or boosters, are connected to the center core at its base and at the vehicle’s interstage. With a total of 27 Merlin engines, Falcon Heavy’s three cores are capable of generating more than 5 million pounds of thrust.

For this test flight, Falcon Heavy’s two side cores were both flight-proven. One launched the Thaicom 8 satellite in May 2016 and the other supported the CRS-9 mission in July 2016. SpaceX was able to successfully land two out of three of Falcon Heavy’s first stage cores during this test.

Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side cores landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Falcon Heavy’s center core touched down on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean but reportedly landed hard and suffered extensive damage.

With this successful first launch, Falcon Heavy becomes the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two, with the ability to lift more than twice the payload of the next vehicle, at one-third the cost. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit.

(Images from SpaceX live video)

FMI: www.spacex.com


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