Science

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket stuns viewers with great launch (photo)

The launch of SpaceX’s powerful Falcon Heavy rocket stunned onlookers on Florida’s Space Coast this weekend.

The Falcon Heavy lifted off Sunday (January 15) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a classified US Space Force mission called USSF-67.

The Falcon Heavy is SpaceX’s most powerful rocket currently in service. It features three modified first stages of the Falcon 9 rocket that launch the vast majority of the company’s missions.

Photographers and videographers got great shots of the USSF-67 launch from Titusville and other coastal areas near Orlando, capturing the Falcon Heavy taking off into dark skies, as you can see in the tweets below. Viewers also saw two Falcon Heavy side boosters land safely at the nearest Space Force station at Cape Canaveral eight minutes after launch.

Related: 8 Ways SpaceX Changed Space Flight Forever

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USSF-67’s main payload was a military communications satellite called Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM 2 (CBAS-2). The mission also carried five small satellites aboard a payload adapter named Long Duration Propulsive ESPA (LDPE)-3A.

USSF-67 was SpaceX’s fifth Falcon Heavy launch, but only the second in recent months. The fourth rocket launch in November 2022 was another US Space Force flight known as USSF-44. USSF-44 was the first Falcon Heavy mission in over three years; the delay was mainly due to customer delays in preparing the payload.

Prior to USSF-44, other Falcon Heavy launches took place in June 2019, April 2019 and February 2018. The first flight is famous for launching SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster into orbit around the sun with a dummy nicknamed Starman. in the driver’s seat.

The car is still in space and will likely continue to fly for millions of years before crashing into either Venus or Earth, past orbit simulations have shown.

Elizabeth Howell is co-author of Why Am I Taller? (will open in a new tab)? (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), space medicine book. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or facebook (will open in a new tab).

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