This morning we saw the Falcon Heavy’s inaugural commercial launch after the design completed its initial test launch in which owner, Elon Musk sent his cherry red Telsa Roadster into an orbit around the sun out near the planet Mars in 2018. The payload today however was, Arabsat-6A a Satellite for a Saudi based communications company.
The Falcon Heavy is 3 Flacon 9 rockets linked together in a modular fashion with a second stage onto of the central booster. The selling point of Space Xs system is that nearly all parts of the assembly are recoverable where as traditionally the rockets end up either in ocean or burning up as they fall back to earth.
The spacecraft needed such a large rocket because it is going to a geosynchronous orbit, 38,000 kilometres above the earth, where the craft essentially stays in a fixed position above a target by matching its orbital speed withe the rotation of the Earth below.
As the booster stages separate from the Second Stage and payload, the outer two flip over and burn they’re engines to land back near the launch pad. The middle booster is going too fast for this and so follows a parabolic trajectory and lands on a remotely steered drone barge. Space X has a bout of a trend inn amusing names for their craft with the drone barge named “Off course I still love you.” and another recovery ship named “Mr Steven”. The unofficial name for the Falcon Heavy’s successor was the “BFR” or “Big F@#%ing Rocket” the PR team quickly appending that to “Big Falcon Rocket”
The reusability is the key to Musk’s vision of bringing down the cost of spaceflight by orders of magnitude, which will spur on humanity to venture further outward.
The coverage today as usual for Space was excuse the pun; stellar. Watching these launches presented more like major league sports than a space launch. It is truly a golden age to be a space and science enthusiast.
Watch the replay here: