Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Web-Cast: 1st Test Launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket Tue. Afternoon

                            Falcon Heavy cropped.jpg
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch Rocket on launch pad LC-39A (Launch Complex 39A) at the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida.
(Image Sources: Wikipedia.com, By SpaceX - This file has been extracted from another file: Falcon Heavy Demo Mission (38583829295).jpg, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65217917)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

UPDATE 2: Launch is now scheduled no earlier than 3:45 p.m. EST / 20:45 UTC, Tuesday, 2018 February 6, due to wind shear in the upper level of the atmosphere.

UPDATE: Launch is now scheduled no earlier than 3:05 p.m. EST / 20:05 UTC, Tuesday, 2018 February 6.

The pioneering private space firm, SpaceX, plans the first test launch of its heavy-lift rocket, called Falcon Heavy, this afternoon (Tuesday, 2018 February 6), with a 3-hour launch window opening at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) / 18:30 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). At the end of this blog-post are Internet links to the live, Internet Web-Cast stream from SpaceX of the launch of the Falcon Heavy.

The Falcon Heavy Rocket will lift-off from launch pad LC-39A at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Launch pad LC-39A (Launch Complex 39-A) was the site of the Apollo spacecraft launches to the Moon, as well as the launches during the Space Shuttle program.

The Falcon Heavy Rocket is a modification of the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, plus two first-stage Falcon 9 rockets as strap-on boosters. With the Falcon Heavy, SpaceX expects to be able to launch much heavier payloads into orbit and into Deep-Space.

For low Earth orbit (LEO), the Falcon Heavy will be able to lift payloads up to 140,700 pounds / 63,800 kilograms. The SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket (with full-thrust) can only lift payloads up to 50,300 pounds / 22,800 kilograms.

For launching into geostationary or geosynchronous orbit, the Falcon Heavy (with first-stage and side booster recovery) can lift up to 17,637 pounds / 8,000 kilograms. For a recoverable Falcon 9 Rocket, the maximum lift is 12,100 pounds / 5,500 kilograms. Satellites launched into geostationary or geosynchronous orbit are often communications, navigation (i.e. GPS), or weather probes, which need to appear to remain above one particular portion of the Earth.

The Falcon Heavy Rocket is designed for future crewed missions, as well as lifting heavy payloads. Last year, SpaceX announced that two unnamed passengers would fly in a SpaceX Dragon Capsule, launched by a Falcon Heavy, for a trip around the Moon and back to Earth sometime in 2018.

For this test launch, the payload selected by SpaceX Founder and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk will be none-other than a cherry-red Tesla Roadster. The electric automobile company, Tesla, was also founded by Elon Musk!

In Instagram social media posts yesterday, Elon Musk shows a “passenger” may be aboard the Tesla Roadster during the Falcon Heavy launch. “Starman in a Red Roadster,” a dummy in an official SpaceX spacesuit, is shown suited-up, buckled-in and ready for launch!

The plan is not to have this Tesla Roadster simply reach Earth orbit. SpaceX plans for this payload to go into a highly elliptical orbit around the Sun. And, it seems, the cherry-red color of the Tesla Roadster is no accident. From time-to-time, this Tesla Roadster will come close to the Red Planet, Mars!

Elon Musk has publicly stated his interest in sending a rocket, and eventually people, to Mars. SpaceX has already begun development of a successor to the Falcon Heavy, known as the BFR Rocket, for long-duration space flights.

Ever the optimist, Elon Musk had originally planned the first test flight of the Falcon Heavy in 2013, when he announced development of the launch vehicle in 2011. However, despite taking longer to develop, today's launch will be a milestone for the private rocket launch industry. The Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful American rocket built since the famed Saturn V Rocket, which took men to the Moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In the 1980s, NASA had hoped that the Space Shuttle would lower the cost of transportation to space, eventually making such transit routine. However, despite the idea of reusing Space Shuttle vehicles, after they glided to a landing on an extended airport-type runway, the cost of Space Shuttle missions were never brought down to a reasonable cost.

SpaceX, which has pioneered reusing much of their flight equipment, has significantly brought down the cost of Falcon Heavy launches to $90 million. This compares to the launch cost of the most powerful rocket operating today, United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy, which costs between $300 million and $500 million.

One of the major reasons SpaceX can have such a low-cost access to Outer Space is because the company tries to reuse nearly everything in a space launch. For instance, in this test launch, SpaceX will attempt to land all three of the Falcon Heavy's first-stage core boosters, for reuse on future launches. If this is successful, this will be yet another amazing accomplishment for SpaceX.

Amazon.com Founder Jeff Bezos, who has also founded a private space company known as Blue Origin, is also developing a heavy-lift rocket called New Glenn. And, of course, NASA continues developing the Space Launch System (SLS), including a heavy-lift rocket, for crewed missions to the Moon and Mars. Test flights of both New Glenn and SLS are expected in 2020.

Internet Links to Live, Web-Cast Stream of Falcon Heavy Test Launch, Tuesday, 2018 February 6 (3-hour launch window opens at 1:30 p.m. EST / 18:30 UTC):
Link 1 >>> http://www.spacex.com/webcast
Link 2 >>> https://www.space.com/17933-nasa-television-webcasts-live-space-tv.html

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_Heavy

SpaceX BFR Rocket: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BFR_(rocket)

Photos: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Readies for Launch:
Link >>> https://www.space.com/39279-spacex-first-falcon-heavy-rocket-photos.html

Related Blog-Posts ---

"Winter & SpaceX Launch w/ Web-Cast Tonight; Ursid Meteors Peak Dec. 22."

2015 Dec. 21.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/12/winter-spacex-launch-w-web-cast-tonight.html 


"NASA Orders SpaceX Astronaut Launches." 2015 Nov. 22.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/11/nasa-orders-spacex-astronaut-launches.html

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2018 February 6.

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