Join me as we go to the Tesla viewing party for SpaceX Falcon Heavy Arabsat 6A mission on April 11th, 2019. Check out more on my podcast https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvUf_yOU_swE6PtOuv2yBqg
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// What is Falcon Heavy?
Falcon Heavy is a partially reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX. It is derived from the Falcon 9 vehicle and consists of a strengthened Falcon 9 first stage as a central core with two additional first stages as strap-on boosters. Falcon Heavy has the highest payload capacity of any currently operational launch vehicle, and the third-highest capacity of any rocket ever to reach orbit, trailing the American Saturn V and the Soviet Energia.
SpaceX conducted Falcon Heavy’s maiden launch on February 6, 2018, at 3:45 p.m. EST (20:45 UTC). The rocket carried a Tesla Roadster belonging to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, as a dummy payload. The second Falcon Heavy launch occurred on April 11, 2019 and all three booster rockets successfully returned to earth.
Falcon Heavy was designed to carry humans into space beyond low Earth orbit, although as of February 2018, Musk does not plan to apply for a human-rating certification to carry NASA astronauts. Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 will be replaced by the Starship and Super Heavy launch system.
Concepts for a Falcon Heavy launch vehicle were initially discussed as early as 2004. The concept for three core booster stages of the company’s as-yet-unflown Falcon 9 was referred to in 2005 as the Falcon 9 Heavy.
SpaceX unveiled the plan for the Falcon Heavy to the public at a Washington DC news conference in April 2011, with initial test flight expected in 2013.
A number of factors delayed the planned maiden flight by 5 years to 2018, including two anomalies with Falcon 9 launch vehicles, which required all engineering resources to be dedicated to failure analysis, halting flight operations for many months. The integration and structural challenges of combining three Falcon 9 cores were much more difficult than expected.
In July 2017, Elon Musk said, “It actually ended up being way harder to do Falcon Heavy than we thought. … Really way, way more difficult than we originally thought. We were pretty naive about that.”
The initial test flight for a Falcon Heavy lifted off on February 6, 2018, at 3:45 pm EST, carrying its dummy payload, Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster, beyond Mars orbit.