Falcon Heavy’s launch on Tuesday will create double sonic booms
The launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday morning (November 1) will be a feast for the senses.
The Falcon Heavy scheduled to lift off Tuesday at 9:41 a.m. EDT (1341 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on a mission to the U.S. Space Force called USSF-44. You can watch the Falcon Heavy launch live on Space.comcourtesy of SpaceX or directly through the company.
They’ll have a lot to take in as the Falcon Heavy roars off the platform, and its three first-stage boosters return to Earth shortly after liftoff. This action will have audio as well as visual components.
“Please note that tomorrow morning’s launch will be accompanied by a double sonic boom. This will occur shortly after launch as the boosters land on Landing Zone 1 and Landing Zone 2 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station,” space launch Delta 45, the base’s official account Patrick Space Force and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, it was announced via Twitter (opens in new tab) on Monday (October 31).
All three Falcon Heavy first stage boosters (which are modified versions of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket) are capable of making vertical touchdowns shortly after liftoff, with the central core usually trying its luck at SpaceX drone ship at sea.
But the main booster for Tuesday’s launch will dive into the sea rather than try to land, because USSF-44 is such a fuel-demanding mission. It sends a handful of cargo into geostationary orbit, about 22,000 miles (35,400 kilometers) above the planet, and the long journey will use up most of the core’s propellant.
The primary payload lifting off on Tuesday, a spacecraft named USSF-44, is classified, so very little is known about it. Also flying as part of the mission is a small technology demonstration satellite called Tetra-1, built for the Space Force by Boeing’s subsidiary Millennium Space Systems. USSF-44 will probably also have several smaller cubesats, according to EverydayAstronaut.com (opens in new tab).
USSF-44 will be just the fourth Falcon Heavy launch overall and the first since June 2019. The long dry spell between launches is primarily due to delays in cargo delivery on the rocket manifest. USSF-44, for example, was originally scheduled to fly in late 2020, but the main satellite was not ready.
The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket flying today. But two even more powerful launchers should debut soon. NASA is preparing for the launch Artemis 1his first mission Space Launch System megarocket, November 14. And SpaceX is preparing for the first orbital test flight Starshipa giant vehicle he is developing to transport cargo and people to the Moon and Mars.
Mike Wall is the author of “There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about 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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