Falcon Heavy is the world's most powerful rocket by a factor of two and hasn't flown since June of 2019. Turns out that's not a problem for a group that knows how to launch the world's most launched booster on a routine basis, and the performance of the mission to carry payloads directly to geosynchronous orbit had the customer, the US Space Force, saying it was “simply outstanding.” Flying satellites directly to 22,400 miles altitude for the geosynchronous orbit puts Falcon Heavy into a very small class of rockets worldwide.
The success of the US Space Force’s USSF-44 mission means that SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is now one of just a handful of operational rockets in the world that has demonstrated the ability to launch satellites directly to geosynchronous orbit. More importantly, it’s one of just three US rockets with that established capability. The other two rockets – ULA’s Atlas V and Delta IV – will cease to be available for US military missions by the end of 2023, meaning that Falcon Heavy may briefly become the only rocket in the world able to launch certain US military missions until ULA’s next-generation Vulcan rocket is ready to prove itself.
I think it's well-known that this mission has been delayed several times
due to issues with the payload, but that couldn't be known when the mission was first
scheduled for late 2021 or early this year. That means SpaceX had the
hardware required for today's launch – mainly three new first-stage boosters –
fully built, the qualification testing completed, and sitting here on the Cape
since mid-2021. It's my understanding there are more sets reserved for Falcon Heavy here now as well.
Here on the Space Coast, as the tourist development agencies call it, the weather was fine but on Cape Canaveral itself, there was uncharacteristic fog. It was hard to see the actual launch and visibility continuously improved as the rocket's altitude increased. I have no idea where to get actual data on this, but I don't think I remember there ever being a fog around here in October. December through the end of January are much more likely to have foggy mornings, in my experience.
This morning's launch from my backyard around 30 seconds before Booster Engine Cutoff and staging. Canon EOS T6i, Sigma 70-300mm zoom at 300mm. Since that's a small sensor, it's more like a 500mm lens on a full-frame sensor.
A visual "trademark" of Falcon Heavy launches is when the boosters return to SpaceX landing zones one and two on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The returns and landings seem choreographed to occur seconds apart. They seemed to be set up to land five seconds apart today. While we've heard sonic booms here from boosters returning to CCSFS before, we didn't hear them today, You should watch the SpaceX video over on YouTube. The video linked is time tagged to start up at T-15 seconds, but you can watch the whole thing simply by moving the slider on screen back to the beginning, or wherever you choose to watch it.
With Artemis/SLS preparing to roll back to Launch Pad 39B no earlier than 12:01 AM on Friday, Nov. 4, it seems to me the debate over which rocket will be the new most powerful rocket in the world, SLS or Starship, is settled and SLS will own that title. Until Starship flies. Probably within a few months, and possibly this month.
It was foggy in Satellite Beach/Indian Harbor in October of '73. That preceded actual snowfall on Christmas Day. And 74-76 were the years of killing frost that destroyed any citrus north of Orlando Georgia border and quite a few groves south of Orlando, even on south Merritt Island.ReplyDelete
Saw some fog the fall of 80 or 81.
But try to tell the young-uns this and they'll tell you it's umpossible because global climate change or something.
Glad Falcon Heavy launched fine. Still amazing that an upstart is outperforming all national and legacy aerospace launchers.
Yes, SLS will own that title - if SLS actually flies.ReplyDelete
It will fly, but it needs to be scrapped because of cost cost cost.Delete
Overpriced, underperforming jobs program/
What an incredible sight watching the two boosters land just a few seconds apart!ReplyDelete
I can't wait to see when Starship becomes fully operational. There will likely be some sizable speed bumps in the early going, but Space-X seems to learn fairly quickly from their failures. The quality and engineering staff appears to be very good at doing accurate root cause analysis of problems and coming up with viable solutions.
Another thing SpaceX does differently is they invited professionals to position cameras around the landing site to photograph the landings. The guy who does location photos for Ars Technica, Trevor Mahlmann, took a 4k resolution, 120 frame/second video of the landing, which is pretty cool.Delete
Staggering the landing times so that it's like a ballet dance of F9 boosters was pretty brilliant.
We heard the sonic booms at the SSPF. Too foggy to see much though.ReplyDelete
ULA's between a rock and a hard place, putting their faith in the BE-4 engine. And, it shows.ReplyDelete
There was a rumor in the last few days that the other BE-4 engine is shipping to ULA, but I haven't found anyone I trust saying it, yet.Delete
that record doesn't count if sls flies in several different directions. I have little to zero faith those grifting crooks can do anything properlyReplyDelete
I’m kinda looking forward to the end of Delta IV Heavy. I get to make some fairly critical components and it will be nice to 1) stop saying a little prayer as booster separation approaches and 2) never have to make said components again.ReplyDelete
There's nothing quite like watching something you worked on take one of those rides, is there? Most of all, you don't want to see the everything go up in shower of little pieces and flames, but right behind that, if it should happen, you especially don't want to be responsible for it.Delete