Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory newsletter. Explore the universe with news of amazing discoveries, scientific advances and more.
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy – a tall, three-axle vehicle that is the world’s most powerful operational rocket – returned to the skies on Tuesday for the first time since mid-2019.
The missile was fired at 9:41 AM ET From NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to carry satellites into space for the US Army on a secret mission dubbed USSF-44.
The Falcon Heavy debuted in 2018 with great fanfare as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Elected to launch a personal Tesla Roadster As a test payload at launch. The Car still in spacetakes a rectangular path around the sun that swings up to the orbital path of Mars.
Since that first test mission, SpaceX has launched only two more Falcon Heavy missions, both in 2019. One of them sent a Huge TV and satellite phone service into orbit for Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat, and the other delivered a batch of experimental satellites to the United States Ministry of Defense.
But the rocket hasn’t been launched since 2019, as the vast majority of SpaceX missions don’t require a power multiplier from the Falcon Heavy’s. On the other hand, the Falcon 9 rocket, the backbone of SpaceX, has launched nearly 50 missions so far this year alone.
With every Falcon Heavy launch, the rocket puts on a dramatic show on the ground.
After Tuesday’s mission, the company only attempted to recover two of the Falcon Heavy’s first stage boosters — long white sticks tied together to give the rocket its increased power on takeoff.
As planned, the central booster was left to sink into the ocean, where it will stay, because it didn’t have enough fuel to direct its flight home, according to new version From the US Army Space Systems Command.
However, the two side boosters made their signature simultaneous landing on ground platforms near the Florida coast.
In the past, SpaceX has tried to return all three of the rocket’s boosters to land and sea landing pads so they can be refurbished and reused for future missions. It does this to reduce job costs. The company has not yet succeeded in getting all three back, although they have come close. The two side boosters made accurate identification, simultaneous landing on ground platforms after the April 2019 mission, and the central booster landed on the cruise ship. but then, He was thrown into the sea by the mighty waves.
Although the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful operating rocket in the world, there are two huge rockets Waiting in the wings to claim this title.
NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, or SLS, is currently scheduled to attempt launch Inaugural launch later in November To send the unmanned Artemis 1 mission around the moon, it sits in the Kennedy Space Center’s high-rise vehicle assembly building, located a few miles from the launch pad where the Falcon Heavy will set out for flight.
While the Falcon Heavy gives about five million pounds of thrust, the SLS is expected to delay as much 8.8 million pounds of thrust 15% more thrust than the Saturn V rockets that powered the moon landings in the mid-20th century.
Across the Gulf Coast, at SpaceX’s experimental facilities in South Texas, the company is in the final stages of preparing for the first orbital launch attempt of its Starship spacecraft and heavy rocket. Although the test flight is still Waiting for final approval From federal regulators, the trip could take place before the end of the year.
The Starship system is expected to outperform both the SLS and the Falcon Heavy by a wide margin. The upcoming Super Heavy booster, designed to catapult the Starship spacecraft into space, is expected to be postponed. 17 million pounds of thrust lonliness.
The SLS and SpaceX’s Starship rocket are an integral part of NASA Plans to return astronauts to the moon’s surface For the first time in half a century.
SpaceX also has its own ambitious vision for Starship: to transport people and goods to Mars in the hopes of establishing a permanent human settlement there one day.
There is not much publicly available information about the USSF-44 mission. In a press release, only the US Army Space Systems Command said the launch will put multiple satellites into orbit on behalf of the Space Systems Command’s Delta Prototyping and Innovation Corporation, which is focused on the rapid development of space technology as it relates to Tracking objects in space plus a host of other activities.
Space System Command declined to provide additional information about the mission when accessed via email. She referred questions to the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, which also declined to comment.
One of the primary drivers of the domestic missile economy is the US military, offering lucrative launch contracts coveted by private launch companies including SpaceX and The main competitor in the regionUnited Launch Alliance, a joint operation of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
“Web maven. Infuriatingly humble beer geek. Bacon fanatic. Typical creator. Music expert.”