SpaceX launched the world’s most powerful rocket for its first flight in some time, and the Falcon Heavy carried valuable cargo into orbit. Falcon Heavy launches have big implications, and not just because of their impressive physical size. Its ability to carry 140,000 pounds of cargo was matched only by NASA’s Saturn V rocket, which helped ferry astronauts to the moon during the Apollo missions, as National Geographic points out. Although its first successful launch was in 2018, SpaceX’s rocket had only seen three total launches since then, with the most recent occurring in 2019.
However, she showed promising results during her handful of missions, including a landmark commercial launch that ended in success. Earth’s most powerful operational rocket has also flown missions for NASA, helping to advance space technology and future Mars exploration expeditions in the process.
Yesterday, SpaceX used its Falcon Heavy to deliver life-saving payloads to high Earth orbit, courtesy of the United States’ military division in space, the US Space Force. What was the result of Falcon Heavy’s first mission in over three years?
SpaceX’s rocket was tasked with delivering vital payloads to the US Space Force as part of a joint operation called mission USSF-44. The Falcon Heavy carried “an array of payloads” which are supposed to “promote and accelerate the development of space technology“, according to the US Space Force. These multi-layered payloads would include many microsatellites and CubeSats, as reported by Spaceflight Now. Tasked with testing environmental conditions in Earth orbit and demonstrating technological capabilities, this equipment will serve to pave the way for future space technologies and missions.
Despite the fog that prevailed yesterday morning on the launch pad, the mission was launched as planned. Even better, it looks like the launch went off without a hitch. Although we were not able to witness the deployment of the payload at the request of SpaceX’s customer (in this case the US Space Force), we were able to see the two Falcon Heavy side rockets successfully land on Earth. For a rocket that hasn’t launched in 40 months, SpaceX must be pretty pleased with today’s launch.