Watching Falcon Heavy Land is a Glimpse at the Future of Spaceflight

James Marshall
April 13, 2019

About three minutes after clearing the pad, Heavy's two side boosters separated from the core rocket for a synchronised landing at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, prompting loud cheers from SpaceX engineers in the company's Hawthorne, California headquarters.

At take-off, the Falcon Heavy soared from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, using the same launch pad that shot Apollo astronauts to the Moon 50-years-ago.

The middle booster, after pushing the payload into space, returned almost 10 minutes later for a successful landing on SpaceX's seafaring drone ship 400 miles (645 km) off the Florida coast.

After a successful launch that delivered the Arabsat-6A satellite into its planned orbit, SpaceX also succeeded in landing all three of the boosters for their Falcon Heavy rocket - a first for the private space company. 'Three for three boosters today for the Falcon Heavy'.

After many delays, SpaceX was finally able to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket this week, for just the second time ever. Because it flies higher and reaches faster speeds than the side boosters, landing it is a trickier endeavor, one SpaceX missed on Falcon Heavy's last test flight in 2018. But this time the main core touched down safely on the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You".

The payload fairings are clam shell-like nose cone halves that protect the craft's payload. Two Starlink test satellites were launched previous year and the company hopes to launch the next set in the coming months using a Falcon 9 rocket. 'Will be flown on Starlink mission later this year'.

The world's most powerful rocket ship has made history.

Unfortunately, the fairing halves have proven hard to recover. Seawater isn't the best for rocket components, but the company is confident it can refurbish the fairings after they've been dunked in the ocean.

SpaceX's payload fairing retrieval boat, dubbed Mr. Steven.

While Mr. Steven was not in a position to catch the fairings from this launch, it was recently given a bigger net and is expected to be on hand in the future to make all parts of the Falcon Heavy recoverable and reusable.

SpaceX and Boeing Co are also vying to send humans to space from USA soil for the first time in almost a decade under NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

SpaceX tries to re-use rockets, payload fairings, boosters and other parts to try to cut down on the cost of each rocket mission.

Regardless, this latest success of the Falcon Heavy is another step along the road to a new age of space exploration, one that is characterized by flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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