SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy launcher, the most powerful operational rocket in the world today, on Tuesday for the first time since 2019. The machine took off from a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida (United States). United).
A few minutes later, the rocket’s two boosters returned to land on Earth. The central floor will not be recovered. Falcon Heavy first flew in a test in 2018, carrying SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla. The second flight took place in June 2019 and no other had been organized since, until Tuesday.
64 tons of payloads on board
SpaceX currently has two operational rockets. The first is the Falcon 9, used in particular to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) or launch the Starlink network satellites. The second is Falcon Heavy, which can launch much heavier payloads or to more distant orbits.
Falcon Heavy can carry up to 64 tonnes into Earth orbit. NASA has notably chosen this rocket to launch certain components of its future space station into orbit around the Moon. On its base in Texas, SpaceX is developing Starship, another rocket composed of a spacecraft mounted on a first stage, named Super Heavy.
Falcon Heavy soon to be dethroned by SLS?
This machine has never flown in its complete configuration. Only the ship made suborbital test flights, several of which ended in impressive explosions. Starship was chosen by NASA to land its astronauts on the Moon during the Artemis 3 mission, in 2025 at the earliest.
NASA will first take its astronauts itself to lunar orbit thanks to its own heavy launcher, SLS, which has been in development for more than ten years. SLS’s first liftoff, set to become the most powerful rocket in the world, was twice canceled at the last minute this summer. A new attempt for this unmanned test flight is scheduled for November 14.