Falcon Heavy Demonstration Mission
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|Configuration||Falcon Heavy R|
|Window||2 hours 30 minutes|
|Site||Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S.|
|Pad||Launch Complex 39|
|Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster|
|Regime||pseudo-Mars transfer orbit|
The Falcon Heavy Demonstration Mission (also known as the Falcon Heavy Test Flight or Falcon Heavy Maiden Flight) was the first attempt by SpaceX to launch a Falcon Heavy rocket, on 6 February 2018 at 20:45 UTC. The launch introduced the most powerful rocket currently in operation, producing 5 million pounds of thrust and having more than twice the lift capacity of the NASA space shuttle.
|Wikinews has related news: SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket blasts Elon Musk's personal Tesla into solar orbit|
The dummy payload for this test flight was a sports car owned by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, a midnight cherry, first generation Tesla Roadster. SpaceX stated that the payload had to be "something fun and without irreplaceable sentimental value". Sitting in the driver's seat of the Roadster is "Starman", a dummy astronaut clad in a SpaceX spacesuit.
The Falcon Heavy maiden flight was intended to accomplish several objectives: to successfully return the two side booster cores to Cape Canaveral and land them simultaneously at Landing Zones 1 and 2, and land the central first stage booster core on an autonomous spaceport drone ship, the Of Course I Still Love You, in the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket used first stage Falcon 9 rockets for its three booster cores and a Falcon 9 upper stage. The purpose of including the Roadster on the maiden flight is to demonstrate that the Falcon Heavy can launch payloads as far as the orbit of Mars.
The launch occurred at 3:45 PM EST, or 20:45 UTC, from Launchpad 39A at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida; the Roadster was successfully placed in its orbit, and its two booster cores returned to land at Landing Zones 1 and 2 several minutes later. The sole objective not completed was the landing of the central core; while its fate was initially ambiguous due to signal loss and heavy smoke, Musk confirmed several hours after the launch that the booster had not survived the recovery attempt. Because two of the three engines necessary to land were unable to reignite, the booster hit the water at 500 kilometres per hour, 100 metres away from the drone ship. While upper stage flight is continued, during the transfer burn to solar orbit, the second stage overshot the orbit of Mars. It is predicted that the Roadster will stay in an orbit with a perihelion at Earth orbit and an aphelion near the orbit of the dwarf planet Ceres in the Asteroid Belt.
The planned mission timeline is (all times approximate):
|T-01:28:00||Go/no go for propellant load|
|T-01:25:00||Kerosene loading underway|
|T-00:45:00||Liquid oxygen loading underway|
|T-00:07:00||Start of engine chill|
|T-00:01:00||Start of pre-launch checks|
|T-00:01:00||Propellant tank flight pressurisation|
|T-00:00:45||Go/no go for launch|
|T-00:00:05||Start of side booster engine ignition sequence|
|T-00:00:03||Start of center core boosters engines ignition sequence|
|T+00:01:06||Max Q (maximum aerodynamic pressure)|
|T+00:02:29||Boosters engines cutoff (BECO)|
|T+00:02:33||Side boosters separate from center core|
|T+00:02:50||Side boosters begin boostback burn|
|T+00:03:04||Center core engine shutdown/main engine cutoff (MECO)|
|T+00:03:07||Center core and 2nd stage separate|
|T+00:03:15||2nd stage engine starts|
|T+00:03:24||Center core begins boostback burn|
|T+00:06:41||Side cores begin entry burn|
|T+00:06:47||Center core begins entry burn|
|T+00:07:58||Side cores landings|
|T+00:08:19||Center core landing|
|T+00:08:31||2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1)|
|T+00:28:22||2nd stage engine restarts|
|T+00:28:52||2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)|
|Mission continues on an experimental long coast and third stage two burns to target a precessing elliptical orbit around the Sun.|
Valuable telemetry data on the performance of the launch system and its components were obtained for all stages of the test flight.
Both boosters successfully landed simultaneously on the ground at Landing Zones 1 and 2.
- Central core
The central core attempted to return to the autonomous spaceport drone ship Of Course I Still Love You but failed to light two of the three engines during the landing burn. The core crashed into the ocean 100 metres (300 ft) away from the drone ship at 500 kilometres per hour (300 mph), causing damage to two of the drone ship's station-keeping thrusters. According to Elon Musk on the post-flight conference, the center core ran out of triethylaluminum-triethylborane (TEA-TEB) igniter fluid.
- SpaceX Falcon 1 flight 1, first (unsuccessful) flight of a SpaceX rocket
- Falcon 1 Flight 4, first successful flight of a SpaceX rocket
- Falcon 9 flight 1, first successful flight of a Falcon 9 rocket
- Falcon 9 flight 20, first successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage on land
- Falcon 9 flight 23, first successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage at sea
- "Falcon Heavy Demonstration Press Kit" (PDF). SpaceX. February 2018.
- Yuhas, Alan (6 February 2018). "SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch: world's most powerful rocket blasts off – live". The Guardian.
- Salazar, Doris Elin (6 February 2018). "SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Rocket: By the Numbers". Space.com.
- Pappalardo, Joe (5 February 2018). "Elon Musk's Space Tesla Isn't Going to Mars. It's Going Somewhere More Important.". Popular Mechanics.
- Grush, Loren (6 February 2018). "SpaceX launches its powerful Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time". The Verge.
- Clark, Stephen (6 February 2018). "Live coverage: Falcon Heavy blasts off for first time, set for Earth departure burn". Spaceflight Now.
- Krishna, Swapna (6 February 2018). "SpaceX confirms it lost the center core of the Falcon Heavy". Engadget.
- Template:Cite twitter
- Harwood, William (6 February 2018). "SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch puts on spectacular show in maiden flight". CBS News.
- "Elon Musk's Tesla Missed Mars Orbit After Successful Falcon Heavy Launch". Don Reisinger. Fortune Magazine via Yahoo.com. reported 8 Feb 2018
- "Pseudo-MPEC for 2018-017A". Project Pluto. 8 February 2018.
- Elon Musk celebrates successful Falcon Heavy rocket launch. CBS News. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018 – via YouTube.
- SpaceX: Template:Youtube (6 February 2018) live broadcast feed
- SpaceX: Template:Youtube (6 February 2018) live broadcast feed from the Tesla Roadster in orbit
- SpaceX: Template:Youtube (24 January 2018) static fire test of Falcon Heavy #1
- SpaceX: Template:Youtube (5 February 2018) animated simulated flight 1 of Falcon Heavy
- NASA Kennedy Space Center: "Rocket Launch: February 6, 2018 | SpaceX Falcon Heavy Inaugural Flight"
- Elon Musk: "A Red Car for the Red Planet" on Instagram (22 December 2017)