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The Falcon Heavy rocket is many things, but “timely” is not one of them. Delay after delay have plagued its development. And this week, the same fate befell its launch schedule. Originally planned to liftoff last Sunday, the Falcon Heavy’s first commercial launch was thrice delayed due to unfavorable weather conditions before it finally left launchpad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center today.
The wait was worth it. The minute the launch window opened on Thursday, the rocket boosted its payload, a Saudi Arabian telecommunications satellite, toward geostationary orbit. Even from across several miles of water, the power of 5 million pounds of thrust was enough to rattle your ribcage. One nearly had to shout to be heard over the roar of the 27 Merlin engines as the rocket departed the launchpad, but few felt the need to say anything. Instead, most of the reporters I was with on the causeway cast their eyes to the sky, tracking the rocket between breaks in the low-hanging clouds as it boosted a 13,000 pound satellite thousands of miles above the Earth.
Minutes - Launch - Rocket - Side - Boosters
Less than eight minutes after launch, the rocket’s two side boosters appeared overhead, looking like two building-sized candlesticks in the twilight sky. As the rockets executed their final burn to perform a nearly simultaneous landing, two sonic booms ripped through the otherwise peaceful Florida night. Everyone on the causeway erupted in cheers after it was clear that both boosters had successfully landed, the tops of which could just be seen over the trees. Only a few minutes later, the center core attempted a landing on Of Course I Still Love You, a drone ship parked in the Atlantic Ocean 600 miles from the launchpad.
A handful of spectators were listening to a radio broadcast from the launch command center, waiting to hear the fate of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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