Falcon Heavy Test Flight

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by heirophant, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    SpaceX will be livestreaming the first attempted test flight of their big new Falcon Heavy booster (the world's most powerful rocket) today (Tuesday February 6) at 1:30 PM EST/10:3o AM PST (US time).


    The live video should be here (whether it succeeds or blows up, it should be spectacular):

    Elon's nervous and he's not entirely confident it's going to work.


    When he showed up at the pad yesterday, he told a reporter from Ars Technica, "There's a lot that could go wrong," Musk admitted. "A really tremendous amount. I really like to emphasize that the odds of success are not super high. I don't want to jinx it -- I'm tempted to say. Because I feel super optimistic. But I feel as though that optimism has no basis in fact. I feel like we've got a two-thirds chance of success, but in reality we only have a 50-50-chance."

    "One of my biggest concerns is booster-to-booster interaction," Musk explained. "You've got a lot of dynamics going on there. Those rockets are very flexible; if they flex in unexpected ways they could potentially impact one another."

    "Going through the sound barrier, you get supersonic shockwaves. You could have some shockwave impingement, or where two shockwaves interact and amplify the effect, that could cause a failure as it goes transonic,"

    There's a very cool animation of how the flight is intended to go (minus the possible explosions, but with a David Bowie soundtrack) showing the launch, the choreographed aerobatics of two of the boosters as they return to simultaneously land at Cape Canaveral (the third lands on a barge in the Atlantic), and finally Elon Musk's own personal Tesla sportscar, in an Earth-Mars Hohmann transfer orbit, steered by a very laid-back nonchalant (empty) spacesuit (one of SpaceX's stylish new designer suits), cruising past Mars and endlessly through interplanetary space for billions of years. (Until a flying saucer full of aliens finds it and they start waving their tentacles in consternation, that part's not shown.)

    Normally initial rocket tests ballast their rockets with hunks of concrete or blocks of metal to stand in for payload mass, but SpaceX is more whimsical. There's method to the madness of shooting it on a transfer orbit to Mars too, since one of the biggest markets for a heavy lift booster like this will be interplanetary space probes.

    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  2. Tireman 44444

    Tireman 44444 Well-Known Member

  3. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    Now they are saying 3:45 EST. Apparently high altitude winds are above specification. Unless the winds subside, they will probably have to reschedule (to tomorrow?). My gut (my infallible authority in life) tells me they aren't going today.
  4. Tireman 44444

    Tireman 44444 Well-Known Member

  5. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    T-20 minutes and the webcast is going.

    Wind finally looks good and the boards are green, with no apparent problems.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  6. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    It went. All three boosters worked great, the red roadster is on its way to Mars and the two side boosters made flawless simultaneous landings at Cape Canaveral. Photo of them landing here:


    The only unknown at this point is whether the center core successfully landed on the 'drone ship' (a barge) out in the Atlantic. (Subsequent edit: Given the lack of updates on it, I'm guessing that it didn't make it.)
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  7. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Seeing the side boosters land in tandem was simply amazing!
  8. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

  9. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    Reports coming out of SpaceX say that the central core crashed while it was attempting to land on the 'drone-ship' in the Atlantic. Word is that the three rocket engines necessary for the landing failed to all ignite and the thing hit at 300 mph. Dunno if it hit the ship or the ocean. (That's why the drone ship is unmanned, I guess.)


    Nevertheless, SpaceX had a very good day.

    (Subsequent edit -- Elon Musk thinks that the center core ran out of fuel so it couldn't complete its landing on the 'drone ship'. It struck the water at 300 mph (500 kph) about 100 meters from the ship, fragmenting and spraying the ship with shrapnel, causing some damage.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  10. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    Elon Musk's Tesla and its relaxed no-worries driver in a spacesuit was supposed to be headed for an Earth Mars Hohmann transfer orbit. But Musk says that it dramatically overshot and appears to be headed closer to the orbit of Ceres, out in the Asteroid Belt. (That's as far beyond Mars as Earth is from the Sun!)

    Elon Musk to Uber driver in spacesuit: "Are you sure this is the right way?"


    But... Jonathan McDowell doesn't think that the orbital mechanics add up, given the numbers in Elon's twitter post. He thinks somebody's making an error somewhere. (geek vs geek in (what once would have been) a battle of sliderules!)

    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  11. Tireman 44444

    Tireman 44444 Well-Known Member

  12. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

  13. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    A very successful flight for the Falcon Heavy Launch Vehicle including the booster separation. Although there were lots of forerunner booster separation examples to learn from including Shuttle, Titan III and IV, Delta II/IV, and Ariane 5.

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