Thursday, 25 April, 2019

SpaceX launches first commercial mission of Falcon Heavy

Science Science
Cary Marshall | 13 April, 2019, 15:39

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.

In a tweet late Thursday, Musk confirmed that both fairing halves were recovered from the Atlantic Ocean undamaged. Almost half an hour after taking off from Cape Canaveral aboard the Falcon Heavy, the satellite separated from the rocket and was placed in a geo-synchronous orbit where it will remain for years.

Unfortunately, the fairing halves have proven hard to recover.

In a reply to another user's tweet, the tech mogul explained that each fairing has its own avionics system and nitrogen thrusters, as well as steerable parachutes, to help them return to Earth safely.

This would be the first time SpaceX has ever reused nosecone fairings it recovered from the ocean, and the company hasn't said a lot about the process (es) it plans to use to give the fairings a second lease on life.

The fairing is a piece of material that's part of the rocket's nosecone, protecting the payload, which can include things like satellites, during launch.

The ability to retrieve payload fairings is the latest step in SpaceX's creation of rocket systems that are entirely reusable.

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

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"The Falcons have landed", Mr Musk wrote on Twitter, inaugurating the first successful recovery of all three rocket boosters, which will be refurbished and re-fly in another Falcon Heavy mission this summer to carry a swarm of military and science satellites for the Air Force.

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

And even before that point, SpaceX was already celebrating the successful landing of Falcon Heavy's three individual boosters.

The latest launch marked the first time Falcon Heavy flies using the new Block 5 hardware, which is created to last longer than previous versions without the need for refurbishment.

After multiple delays throughout early April, Falcon Heavy blasted off at the opening of its launch window on April 11, just after 6:30 p.m. EDT.

The Dragon spacecraft are used as the final stage of SpaceX missions to resupply the International Space Station.

SpaceX is now testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets.

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