Welcome Back, Falcon: Successful Second Launch of Falcon Heavy


Maximilian Looft, Author

Fourteen months ago, the world’s most powerful rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. It was not made by any government — the private company SpaceX stuck to its ambitious goals of creating one of the world’s most powerful rockets to climb a few more rungs of the daunting ladder of colonizing Mars.

The rocket, the Falcon Heavy, made history on February 6, 2018, by landing two of the three reusable boosters and topping the demo launch by sending Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster into space. This was controversial for many people, who only saw the event as a $90 million mission to send a car into space. Many did not realize that it was simply a demo mission, and the rocket needed a fairing (to reduce drag), so SpaceX decided to be creative.

Now, the Falcon Heavy had another chance to redeem itself after the middle booster failed to land on the drone ship in its last attempt. On April 11, the Falcon Heavy launched with purpose. This time, it was a commercial mission: delivering the Arabian satellite Arabsat-6A. This mission was more successful than the previous, but unfortunately, not a complete success.

Nearly eight minutes after launch, both side boosters landed successfully at their individual landing pads near at the shore of Cape Canaveral. Then, just two minutes later, the middle booster also successfully landed on the ocean drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, marking the mission as a big improvement over last year’s demo mission.

Misfortune came when the drone ship began to bring the middle booster back home to Port Canaveral. Rough seas prevented the an easy trip home, and ten-foot waves caused the drone-ship to rock too violently, resulting in the booster tipping over. Fortunately, it doesn’t mean the end for the booster.

On Twitter, Musk said that the booster could possibly be reused. When asked if any sections of the core would be recovered he said, “Engines seem ok, pending inspection.” Other than that, the fairings were also recovered and will be used on the next Falcon Heavy launch this summer for the Starlink mission.