NEWS – On April 11, 2019, I was able to see the story, at least in part, when SpaceX launched its second Falcon Heavy from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. I did this from my driveway, or rather, the path of a friend down the street, which is pretty cool.
Disclaimer: most of the photos are from the Falcon Heavy launch of February 2018, where I was in Titusville, Florida, much closer to the Cape.
The launch was smooth and we could clearly see the launch from approximately 90 miles to the west. The best part was that we could also clearly see the re-entry burn in the two lateral reinforcements when they stabilized before their free fall to the Cape. This happened approximately eight minutes after the launch.
The two lateral thrusters travel relatively slowly when they separate, allowing them to return directly to the Cape.
The reinforcement of the center travels too fast in the separation to return to the Cape. It is badumed that this reinforcement will land on a platform of unmanned aircraft in the Atlantic Ocean. That was the plan last year as well, but the impeller missed the platform and not only was lost, but it also flooded and sank the platform. This time, all that changed when the three reinforcements worked exactly as designed and were nailed to the perfect landings in the center.
This is from the SpaceX Twitter feed just after landing, which shows the reinforcement of the main center on the drone platform.
The technology behind all this is amazing. Think of controlling three objects, all weighing thousands of pounds, drop freely from space, guide them, essentially without an engine, and land all so gently that you can use them again. That's what SpaceX brought to the table tonight.
The mission continued, successfully launching the Arabsat-6A satellite into the geosynchronous orbit. This means that SpaceX has completed its first commercial launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket.
It's an exciting time for the United States space program. Who knows how this technology will lead to other new developments?
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