Science

The close-up view of two Falcon rockets landing is as magnificent as you’d imagine

The close-up view of two Falcon rockets landing is as magnificent as you’d imagine

On Tuesday morning, the Falcon Heavy rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center, carrying a pair of satellites for the US Space Force into geostationary orbit.

This was the fourth overall launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, but it was the first time that SpaceX invited a handful of photographers to set up remote cameras next to Landing Zone 2, located at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This is one of two concrete pads on which Falcon 9 rockets launched from Florida occasionally land.

Each of the circular landing pads, which are 86 meters in diameter, were busy Tuesday morning with the return of a pair of side boosters from the Falcon Heavy launch. After separating from the core stage of the heavy rocket, these boosters then performed propulsive descent. The first landed 8 minutes and 15 seconds after launch. The second followed five seconds later.

Trevor Mahlmann, who kicked for Ars, was among those called upon to record the touchdown moment. Video of the launch and the landing is impressive, but Mahlmann’s shots do a great job of capturing the fire and fury of the rockets as one engine burns to bring the rocket’s speed to near zero.

SpaceX will now rebuild these side boosters for reuse on the military’s next Falcon Heavy mission, USSF-67, as early as next January. The central core was not found and landed far down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Listing image by Trevor Mahlmann



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