The Falcon Heavy launch: the most powerful operational rocket in the world

Source: The post is based on the article “The Falcon Heavy launch: the most powerful operational rocket in the world” published in The Hindu on 7th November 2022. 

What is the News?

Recently, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy rocket into a geosynchronous Earth orbit from the Kennedy Space Center. The company hails this as the most powerful operational rocket in the world. This is the fourth launch of the giant rocket system, and the first one in nearly three years since its last launch in 2019.

About the launch of the recent Falcon Heavy rocket

The rocket is carrying satellites to space for the U.S. military in a mission named as U.S. Space Force (USSF)-44. The mission deployed two spacecraft payloads.

One of which is the TETRA 1 microsatellite and the other is for national defence purposes. It will place the satellites for the Space Systems Command’s Innovation and Prototyping.

Note: Space Systems Command (SSC) is the oldest military space organisation in the United States Armed Forces. It is responsible for developing, acquiring, equipping, fielding and sustaining lethal and resilient space capabilities.

What are the specifications of the Falcon Heavy rocket?

Rocket engine: Falcon Heavy has 27 Merlin engines. Merlin is a family of rocket engines developed by SpaceX for use on its Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.

Merlin engines use RP-1 and liquid oxygen as rocket propellants in a gas-generator power cycle. These engines were designed for recovery and reuse.

Lifting capacity: Around 64 metric tonnes into orbit.

Note: Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy.

Previous launches: The Falcon Heavy debuted in 2018 when SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sent his personal electric sports car with a dummy driver, into space as a test payload. The car is still in space, orbiting around the sun.

SpaceX launched the other two Falcon Heavy missions in 2019. Prior to this, it was recently launched in June 2019.

What is the significance of the Falcon Heavy rocket?

Falcon Heavy has 27 Merlin engines which together generate more than five million pounds of thrust at lift-off, equalling around eighteen 747 aircraft at full power. This makes it the most capable rocket flying.

What is the future of the Falcon Heavy rocket?

SpaceX is said to be working on even bigger rockets. The company is targeting early December to launch its giant Starship rocket system.

Starship to be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry an excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.

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