Falcon Heavy launch Tuesday delivers double sonic booms
The launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday morning (Nov. 1) will be a feast for the senses.
The Falcon Heavy is scheduled to take off Tuesday at 9:41 a.m. EDT (1341 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on a mission for the U.S. space power called USSF-44. You can watch the Falcon Heavy launch live on Space.comcourtesy of SpaceX, or directly through the company.
There’s a lot to come as the Falcon Heavy roars off the path and the three boosters from the first stage return to Earth not long after launch. This action will have both auditory and visual components.
“Please note that tomorrow morning’s launch will be followed by a double sonic boom. This will occur shortly after launch as the boosters land at Landing Zone 1 and Landing Zone 2 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station,” Space Launch Delta 45, the official account of Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, said via Twitter (opens in new tab) on Monday (October 31).
Related: Why SpaceX hasn’t flown a Falcon Heavy rocket since 2019
All three Falcon Heavy’s first pedal boosters (these are modified versions of SpaceX’s) Falcon 9 rocket) are able to make vertical landings shortly after launch, with the central core stage usually trying its luck at a SpaceX drone ship at sea.
But the nuclear booster on Tuesday’s launch will disappear into the sea instead of trying to land, because the USSF-44 is such a demanding mission in terms of fuel. It will send a handful of payloads to geostationary orbit, about 22,000 miles (35,400 kilometers) above the planet, and the long journey will use up most of the core booster’s propellant.
The primary payload going up on Tuesday, a spacecraft called USSF-44, has been classified, so very little is known about it. Also flying on the mission is a small technology demonstration satellite called Tetra-1, which was built for the Space Force by Boeing subsidiary Millenium Space Systems. USSF-44 will probably also contain several smaller cubesats, according to EverydayAstronaut.com (opens in new tab).
USSF-44 will be just the fourth launch for the Falcon Heavy overall and the first since June 2019. The long drought between launches is mainly due to cargo delivery delays on the manifest of the rocket. USSF-44, for example, was originally supposed to fly in late 2020, but the main satellite wasn’t ready yet.
The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket flying today. But soon, two even more powerful launchers will appear. NASA prepares for launch Artemis 1the first mission of his Space Launch System megarocket, on November 14. And SpaceX is preparing for the first orbital test flight of spaceshipthe gigantic vehicle it is developing to carry cargo and people to the moon and Mars.
Mike Wall is the author of “Outside (opens in new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on facebook (opens in new tab).
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