SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch: What you need to know


Florida’s Space Coast is owning up to its nickname as research and launch activity ramps up. 

Feb. 6 was a historic day with the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket.

>> Read more trending news

The rocket successfully blasted off at 3:45 p.m., rescheduled from 2:20 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. due to winds. The boosters successfully landed simultaneously after the rocket launch.

It launched from 39A, the same pad used for the Apollo missions. SpaceX’s pad was damaged in September 2016 when a rocket exploded. 

The Falcon Heavy rocket was a test launch, costing around $90 million. The heavy lift vehicle can place about 68.3 metric tons in low Earth orbit. The most a rocket has carried to orbit was the Saturn V at about 118 metric tons, used in the Apollo program in the 1960s and the Skylab space station in the 1970s. The most recent version of a single Falcon 9 rocket can lift 13.2 tons. 

“If this is successful, this is once again SpaceX disrupting the marketplace and that's a good thing,” Dale Ketcham with Space Florida said before the launch. 

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has played down expectations for the launch publicly, saying this is a brand new vehicle with 27 engines having to work in sync. 

Large crowds were expected for the launch.

“We expect upwards of 100,000 people will come to the community just to see the launch, and that's on top of the people that are already here, including our seasonal guests, so it's going to be a huge crowd,” Eric Garvey of the Space Coast Office of Tourism said before the Tuesday launch.

Here are the main things to know about the Falcon Heavy liftoff: 

  • It is essentially three rockets bolted together to make the heavy vehicle.

  • It is a test flight.

  • The middle booster will carry Elon Musk’s own Red Tesla Roadster.

  • The Roadster is planned be near Mars’ orbit in a precision Earth Mars elliptical orbit around the sun. 

  • The mission will try to prove that it is possible to put payloads into an orbit intersecting Mars. This would help in the mission planned to put humans in Mars.

  • Musk presented this project in 2011 and he planned to roll out the heavy rocket in Southern California in late 2012. He hoped for a launch at some point in 2013 -- it was obviously delayed.

  • The rockets were put in position in pad 39A and tested in December 2017.

  • Falcon Heavy rockets cost a fraction of the price of the future Space Launch System rockets, which are planned to have more lift and throw a spacecraft further into space, to Jupiter and beyond. They will probably not be ready until the mid-2020s.

  • Each rocket has nine engines, making it 27 engines in total that need to ignite in tandem.

  • The two side rockets will jettison from the center rocket two and a half minutes after liftoff.

  • The center booster will continue for a bit longer before engines are shut off.

  • All three rockets are planned to land back on Earth; two back at the Cape and the heavier rocket at the Atlantic (barge) platform called “Of course, I still love you.”

  • There is a good chance that this launch may fail.

  • Falcon Heavy weighs more than 3.1 million pounds (loaded with kerosene and liquid oxygen) and it's about 229 feet tall.

  • If successful, there will be more heavy launches during the first half of 2018 from Cape Canaveral, too.

  • Central Florida residents, especially those near the coast -- but as far away as metro Orlando -- may hear a sonic boom.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

UPDATE: Police officer injured on Beeline in Gardens crash 
UPDATE: Police officer injured on Beeline in Gardens crash 

A West Palm Beach police officer was injured in a crash Monday night on Beeline Highway near Jog Road, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. A vehicle and semi-truck were involved in the crash, authorities said. The injured officer was taken to the hospital by the trauma helicopter. Firefighters from Palm...
Jury to decide alleged Jupiter hate-crime killing of Guatemalan teen
Jury to decide alleged Jupiter hate-crime killing of Guatemalan teen

With a single swing of an ax, David Harris said, he was able to buy his younger brother Jesse just enough time to get up and run away from an early April 18, 2015 melee with a group of men in the 300 block of 4th street in Jupiter. The 22-year-old’s testimony in his own defense during the murder trial were the last words jurors heard...
BREAKING: Lake Worth falsely sends out ‘zombie’ alert during power outage
BREAKING: Lake Worth falsely sends out ‘zombie’ alert during power outage

A city power outage alert in Lake Worth on Sunday caused concern in residents for its mention of zombies. That’s correct. Zombies. The message was sent during a power outage at about 1:45 a.m., but it also warned of “zombie alert for Lake Worth and Terminus,” potentially referencing the city in the zombie TV show ...
What’s the work on Alt. A1A in Gardens, and when will it be finished?
What’s the work on Alt. A1A in Gardens, and when will it be finished?

A big landscaping project in the city is ahead of schedule, despite the rain that’s been drenching Palm Beach County for the past couple weeks. RELATED: How $350,000 will make Alternate A1A in Gardens look prettier Palm Beach Gardens is prettying up a roughly 1-mile stretch of Alternate A1A for $350,000. The city expected the contractor to finish...
NEW: Florida man tries to eat endangered gopher tortoises, sheriff says
NEW: Florida man tries to eat endangered gopher tortoises, sheriff says

A Martin County sheriff’s deputy response to a man-down call quickly changed when he found the man wasn’t lying helpless on the ground — he was pulling endangered animals from their hole, according to officers. Robert Herndon Lane, a 28-year-old from Lake City, was lying on the ground in Seabranch Preserve State Park in Stuart and...
More Stories