Falcon Heavy Test Flight

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When Falcon Heavy lifts off, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)---a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel--Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9.
Its first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.
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[music]. you are looking at a live view of the . falcon heavy yes the falcon heavy on . historic pad 39a at kennedy space center. awaiting liftoff at 3:45 p. m. welcome to our live launch webcast my . name is lauren lyons i'm an engineer and . our flight reliability department here . at spacex i'm so excited to be here with . you today along with my co-host bringing . you coverage of the first ever test . flight of falcon heavy at liftoff falcon . heavy is going to be the world's most. powerful operational rocket by a factor . of two and today is the day that we . attempt to demonstrate that power and . because it is a test flight there is no . satellite customer on board the vehicle. today but the fairing is not empty we do . have some very interesting payloads . going up on this flight that we'll talk . about later on in the webcast we'll also . walk you through the mission profile. because this ain't your typical falcon . launch we've got 28 engines three . boosters three separation events three . landing attempts and there's going to be. a lot of activity happening all at once . so this test flight is bound to be . exciting one way . all right we've got a ton to walk you . through today so let's get going . hi i'm michael hamersley a materials . engineer or an avionics department the . we're very excited i'm sure you can hear . it to my right we have a live view of . falcon heavy on the pad at kennedy space . center . falcon heavy is essentially three falcon . 9 rocket saul strapped together which . means it can carry much larger payloads. not only to earth orbit but to the moon . and mars as well so like falcon 9 falcon . heavy is a two-stage launch vehicle the . big difference is that the first stage . in falcon heavy is comprised of three . cores while falcon 9 has only one now . each one of these three cores has nine . m1d engines making for a total of 27 . engines over all altogether those . engines produce 5 million pounds of . thrust which is equal to 18 747s at . takeoff in fact the engines are . producing so much power that we don't . run them at full thrust all at once so . during ascent falcon heavy will throttle . its thrust up and down in both the side . and the center cores in order to balance . the aerodynamic and structural loads on. the vehicle so about halfway through the . first stages burn the two side boosters . will separate and come back to earth for . simultaneous landing at cape canaveral. air force station more about that a bit . later . at that point the mission proceeds very . much like a standard falcon 9 flight the . center core will keep on firing for. another minute to burn all of its fuel . and it will perform a standard stage . separation from the second stage on top . this second stage with the fairing right . at the very top there the second stage . is exactly the same as any other falcon. 9 flight except we've loaded a bit more . helium onto it this time now that second . stage we'll be sending our payload way . out into a mars crossing orbit which . will also get into a bit later but all . in all with a successful launch falcon . heavy is going to be the largest and. most powerful operational rocket in the . world we're very excited to be launching . it today let's check in on exactly how . it's doing good afternoon i'm john . inspector the falcon principle . integration engineer at spacex we're . currently at t-minus 17 minutes 40 . seconds and counting down the good news . that all systems are go for launch . we're working no problems with the . spacex test flight of the falcon heavy . launch vehicle now we're currently . loading propellant on all three . first-stage boosters and we began . loading a couple minutes ago on the . second stage lox tank now this is the . same method that we use on the single . core falcon 9 it just scaled to handle . three first-stage boosters now we're . loading liquid oxygen and kerosene we do . that because in order to support . combustion you need oxygen and then the . vacuum of outer space there isn't any so . we bring your own liquid oxygen chilled . and densified it you may have heard . densified in the past that allows us to . patch the makam maximum amount into the . lox tanks on the falcon heavy now our. fuel is refined petroleum rp1 it's . essentially just a purified kerosene. it's a safe propellant easily available . has a lot of history for example the . saturn 5 first stage for . from the very pad you see on the monitor . from the moon missions used kerosene and . the liquid oxygen now the big news this . afternoon has been the weather and we've . eaten up most of our launch window now . we won't have the ability to hold the . countdown any further now that we are . into liquid oxygen loading the good news . is that the winds are looking good we're . working no issues on the falcon heavy . however if there is an issue in the last . minutes we won't be able to launch today . there is a backup date available . tomorrow and i said it before launch is . hard and falcon heavy is no exception . we're essentially counting down three . rockets simultaneously so the spacex . team is going to be conservative in case . anything pops up in the last minutes but . as the energy and the enthusiasm from. the team gathering below me outside of . mission control center x is growing we . are go at t-minus 15 minutes and 40 . seconds and counting my name is brian . and i'm part of the software team here . and i'm standing just outside mission . control as the crowd gathers behind me . we're all anxiously awaiting this very . first test flight of falcon heavy now. today spacex has over 6,000 employees . and locations across the country but it . wasn't always like them . now when spacex was first founded in . 2002 it was just a small group of . engineers who believed that they could . reduce the cost of exploring space but . had never actually built a rocket . themselves a falcon one was the first . rocket we developed and it was pretty . small relative to falcon 9 and falcon . heavy while the falcon heavy on the. right of your screen is over 230 feet . tall. falcon 1 stood only about 70 feet tall . and could only carry about a half a ton . to orbit however despite its small size . falcon 1 served a very large purpose it . was our roadmap to using modern . technologies to engineer a vehicle that. was not just more reliable but was less . expensive than alternatives now we had . three test flights of the falcon one . before we found success but on that . fourth falcon one flight it became the . first privately developed liquid-fueled . rocket to reach earth orbit now fast . forward to today and spacex has had 49 . successful rocket launches we have . recovered 21 first stages and we have . reef loan six of those we have had 14 . dragon launches and have successfully . reused the spacecraft as well now our . next step on this journey is just . minutes from now and we'll attempt the . first test flight of our heavy lift . launch vehicle now there have been many . challenges along this long road and it . has not been easy but no matter what . happens today it has all been worth it . now one of the many challenges were . hoping to overcome with this test flight . is the recovery of all three cores of . the falcon heavy first stage although we . have demonstrated success with the . recovery of a single core 3 is on a . whole nother level so let's check in . with michael to get an overview of what . that story may look like at spacex our . primary goal is to enable people to live . on other planets most notably mars but . it's hard to do this without . dramatically lowering the cost of access . to space and the best way to accomplish . that is to reuse as much of the rocket . as possible so we've been successful at . landing and reusing falcon 9 rocket for . over two years now and falcon heavy aims . to continue this trend of reusability so . today we'll be attempting to recover all . three of the first stage cores by using . both of our landing methods by land . and by see so the side boosters have . actually been used before on missions . tyco mate and crs 9 and at the time of . booster separation during ascent the . side cores will still be going slowly . enough to turn around so it makes sense . to return them to cape . they'll be executing a three burn . maneuver to get them back to landing . zones one and two and cape canaveral air . force station you may have heard of . landing zone one landing zone two is an . identical landing pad right next to it . for half balcon heavy landings the . central core will be going too fast to . efficiently return it to cape canaveral. air force station so we are you going to . use the autonomous spaceport drone ship. to catch it about 300 miles off the . florida coast it will also be executing . three burns to get there so if all goes . well after launch we'll have three first . stage cores back on earth two for the . second time and a wealth of data for . perfecting airplane like operation in . the future so countdown is still. proceeding nominally so let's check in . again on how falcon heavy is doing . we just passed - - 12 minutes in the . countdown of the test flight of falcon . heavy fuel is completely loaded on the . second stage the first stage is also . loaded with fuel except for a small top . off that'll happen between t-minus seven . minutes and t-minus six minutes our . major activity now is loading liquid . oxygen on the boosters and the second . stage liquid oxygen propellant loading . on the first stages will end between . t-minus four minutes and t-minus three . minutes liquid oxygen loading on the . second stage is the last one to finish . ending by t-minus two minutes now in . addition to loading propellant the team . is preparing to perform their final . checks of the merlin engines will begin . chi'lan of the merlin engine turbo pumps . with liquid oxygen is typical at t-m
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