Elon Musk had been waiting for November 1 for 1225 days. Although busy with the very recent takeover of Twitter, the businessman touches on everything was concerned about SpaceX for a few moments on Tuesday. Around 2 p.m. French time, a Falcon Heavy rocket took off for geostationary orbit. On board a “military payload” ensures the US Department of Defense.
Falcon Heavy: a colossal rocket
At the foot of the super-powerful 70-meter rocket for 1400 tons, the two boosters (or boosters) were watched closely. SpaceX was indeed trying with this flight to bring them back to dry land. Eventually the company would like to recover the two side boosters, but also the central stage of the rocket. For this return flight, the company was content with side boosters. The flight required too much power and fuel for the core stage to return to Earth.
The Falcon Heavy flies little, but every launch is an event. While the rocket should be used for NASA missions in the coming years, SpaceX is struggling to find partners for such a machine. With an orbiting capacity of 63 tons, Falcon Heavy is a monster. By way of comparison, the European Ariane V rocket is “only” capable of 21 tons. Little sister of the Falcon Heavy, the very popular Falcon 9 also reaches 20 tons in low orbit.
Faced with much cheaper (and more profitable) competition, the Falcon Heavy often remains on the sidelines. During its first flight in 2018, which served as a demonstration, SpaceX had also sent a Tesla Roadster into space. A communication stunt from Elon Musk that caused a lot of ink to flow at the time.
Falcon Heavy: too powerful to be profitable
But since then only two missions have taken off from Cape Canaveral. The former successfully launched a telecommunications satellite for Arabsat. The second, also secret, carried out a mission on behalf of the American Defense Service.
On the SpaceX side, the success of this mission after a three-year hiatus could mark the return of the Falcon Heavy to the launch pads. Other missions are planned for the beginning of 2023. During the end of 2024, the rocket should notably take off with the PPE and Halo modules. They will serve as the basis for the design of the “Lunar Gateway”, an ultra-modern space station in orbit around the Moon.
In total, 10 flights are planned for the next three years for the rocket. The little sister Falcon 9 is expected to leave Earth more than 100 times in that same time frame.