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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket soared to the sky Sunday, transporting national security payloads to orbit for the US military. The towering launch vehicle is noted for its boosters’ synchronised landings and aerial acrobatics when returning to Earth.

 

The designated USSF-67 was launched at 5:56 p.m. ET from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, the fifth successful launch of the rocket that was formerly the most potent operational launch vehicle in the world. It was initially stated that this mission would launch on Saturday, and it wasn’t immediately clear why there had been a day’s delay. When SpaceX CEO Elon Musk attached his personal Tesla Roadster to the launch as a test payload in 2018, the Falcon Heavy made its public debut to much fanfare. The vehicle is still in orbit, travelling in an oblong path that extends as far as Mars’ orbit.

 

Before taking a three-year break, the rocket launched twice more after that test flight. The vast majority of SpaceX’s missions don’t require the Falcon Heavy’s enhanced power. On the other hand, SpaceX’s reliable Falcon 9 rocket launched more than 60 times in 2022 alone, carrying a variety of spacecraft including Starlink satellites and two crews of astronauts.

 

The lucrative military launch contracts that SpaceX signed for the Falcon Heavy years ago are now being fulfilled, though. The USSF-44 mission was launched by the rocket in November, and the launch on Sunday was a continuation of that display. According to the military’s Space Operations Command, USSF-44 carried six payloads on a single satellite that advance communications, space weather sensing, and other technologies into near-geosynchronous orbits.

 
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket

Additionally, USSF-67 will use LDPE, a spacecraft similar to a bus for the solar system that can transport smaller satellites, which was also used on USSF-44. The Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM communications satellite for the US Space Force was also transported by the Falcon Heavy. It took a while before more information about the satellites on Sunday’s mission became available. The Falcon Heavy rocket performs a spectacular show back on Earth with each launch.

 

Two of the Falcon Heavy rocket’s first-stage boosters—the tall, white sticks attached together to give the rocket its enhanced thrust at takeoff—were found by the company after Sunday’s mission. The side boosters fell away from the centre core after using up the majority of their fuel and then turned around to pierce the Earth’s atmosphere once more.

 

The boosters restarted their engines as they neared the ground and carried out a coordinated landing on ground pads close to the Florida coastline. It is a defining action for SpaceX, which regularly recovers and repurposes its rocket boosters to reduce the cost of launches. Due to the need for fuel, SpaceX decided not to try and recover the centre booster.

 

Although it has nearly done so, the company hasn’t yet successfully recovered all three boosters. After a mission in April 2019, the rocket’s two side boosters made a precise, coordinated landing on ground pads, and the centre booster made contact with a floating platform. However, choppy waves knocked it over.

 

According to the SpaceX specifications page for the Falcon Heavy, its 27 first-stage Merlin engines produce more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff (opens in new tab). Up until NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission took off on November 16, ‘The Heavy’ was the most potent rocket in use.

 

It was NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket’s first flight, which launched an unmanned Orion capsule into lunar orbit and back. The SLS rocket has a thrust capacity of about 8.8 million pounds.

But SpaceX might soon reclaim NASA’s crown as the world’s leading rocket manufacturer. The company is getting ready for the launch of its massive Starship Mars rocket’s first orbital test flight, which will use 33 Raptor engines to unleash an astounding 16 million pounds of thrust — the most ever produced by a rocket.

 

FAQs

1. What number of satellites can the Falcon Heavy carry? 

It can carry 6 small satellites.

2.  How much weight can the Falcon Heavy carry? 

Falcon Heavy can carry 117,000 pounds (53,000 kg). 

3. Was the launch successful?

The Space Systems Command announced the mission was successful about six hours after launch.

What do you think?

Written by Deepika

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