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SpaceX Successfully Lands Two Falcon Heavy Boosters Simultaneously After Rocket Launch [Update] (spaceflightnow.com) 446

After nearly a decade of development, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket has successfully launched from pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida today. After reaching orbit, the two side boosters simultaneously landed at Landing Zone One. We do not know the status of the central core of the rocket, which was destined to land on the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship roughly 8:19 minutes into the flight.

According to Space.com, the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket to launch since NASA's Saturn V -- the iconic vessel that, with 7.5 million pounds of thrust, accomplished the definitive Apollo-era feat of putting astronauts on the moon. Elon Musk says that Falcon Heavy is "twice as powerful as any other booster operating today." As for the payload, it includes a Tesla Roadster electric car. "The Falcon Heavy will send the vehicle around the sun in an elliptical orbit that will extend farther than Mars' orbit," reports Space.com.

UPDATE: SpaceX has confirmed The Verge's reporting that the middle core of SpaceX's Heavy Rocket missed the drone ship where it was supposed to land. "The center core was only able to relight one of the three engines necessary to land, and so it hit the water at 300 miles per hour," reports The Verge. "Two engines on the drone ship were taken out when it crashed, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a press call after the rocket launch. It's a small hiccup in an otherwise successful first flight."
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SpaceX Successfully Lands Two Falcon Heavy Boosters Simultaneously After Rocket Launch [Update]

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  • by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:11PM (#56078789)
    That I had to double-check that I was watching a live stream and not a CGI of what they expected to happen.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:17PM (#56078843)

      What a shitty Slashdot summary for such an important event!

      Don't bother reading that shitty article. Just go to SpaceX's website directly, where there is video footage. [spacex.com] Or look at the SpaceX tweets [twitter.com].

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:49PM (#56079053)

      Ed Tice exulted:

      That I had to double-check that I was watching a live stream and not a CGI of what they expected to happen.

      My wife and I watched the SpaceX live stream of the launch just minutes ago. The liftoff was so "nominal" - to use Launch Control's colorless term - it brought tears to my eyes.

      And the simultaneous safe landing of the two external boosters (both of which have flown to space and returned previously!) made us both cry tears of joy and pride in this landmark achievment.

      As a teenager, I was privileged to watch Apollo 11 lift off for our moon from the vantage of the front yard of our rental house in Satellite Beach. For me, this maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy was an event that resonated very strongly with that one: an aspirational and technological peak moment in the history of our species. The main difference here and now (aside from 48.5 years or so) is that, while the promise of Kennedy's lunar landing initiative was squandered by the petty vindictiveness of Richard Nixon's personality, the successful launch of the Falcon Heavy brings the quest that the Apollo program initiated back to life again - and puts us back, at long last, on the path toward eventual human habitation of the entire Sol system.

      The true Space Age starts now ...

      (Posting as AC only so as not to undo prior upmods in this thread.)


      Check out my novel [amazon.com] ...

      • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @09:53PM (#56080455) Homepage

        The true Space Age starts now ...

        (Posting as AC only so as not to undo prior upmods in this thread.)

        Wow, thank you, you and a few others posted my thoughts, my optimism, my hope so perfectly.

        I was sitting there glued to the TV, watching it, just thinking to myself "Come on, Beautiful Machine, you can do it!"

        Sadly it seems like the main rocket was lost, but they'll get the kinks out. What a beautiful achievement.

        It would have been nice if you'd been able to post that as yourself and keep your moderations - I have a feeling that they were as insightful as your post here.


        • by Scarletdown ( 886459 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @10:20PM (#56080551) Journal

          I do have to point out that Elon Musk missed out on another historic opportunity he could have pulled off with this launch. It they can put a Tesla Roadster in orbit around the Sun, then they could have just as easily launched a tea pot into orbit as well, thereby totally ruining the Russell's Teapot Argument as a philosophical debate point.

          Then again, they would just change to some other object like Hopper's Source Code, or Hawking's Colostomy Bag, or Ada's Dildo.

          • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2018 @04:28AM (#56082017)

            I do have to point out that Elon Musk missed out on another historic opportunity he could have pulled off with this launch. It they can put a Tesla Roadster in orbit around the Sun ...

            Anyone else notice that in the book/film The Martian astronaut Mark Watney was launched into orbit from Mars in a "convertible" (he removed the MAV nose airlock and windows) and now Musk has launched an "astronaut" in a literal convertible into an orbit around Mars.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @06:01PM (#56079137) Journal

      The technical term is "FUCKING AWESOME!"

      It was a beautiful thing. Launches have been pretty dull for many years, but this felt just like the first Shuttle launch, like something new and amazing had happened.

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @10:14PM (#56080537) Journal

        I talk a lot of shit about Musk, but I've got to say, that was some first-rate space-shot porn. When the two side-boosters landed, there were tears in my cynical old eyes. Salut.

        The only thing that could top this is if the flat-earth guy finally gets his homemade rocket off the ground. I've got high hopes for that maniac.

    • by haruchai ( 17472 )

      That I had to double-check that I was watching a live stream and not a CGI of what they expected to happen.

      That side by side landing of the outer boosters was a thing of beauty.

    • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

      Wasn't that landing just awesome to watch? That is how it should be done. I can't help but think someone was just showing off at that point. Well Played.

  • It's like they know what they are doing or something over there at Space-X.. Time to make some money!

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:12PM (#56078799) Homepage

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    Quite amazing to watch the two boosters land simultaneously (at 37:58).

    I guess Mr. Musk was sandbagging a bit when he said he would be happy if the pad wasn't destroyed.

    Everyone at SpaceX must be very proud, and rightly so.

    • As I write this, still no word as to whether or not the core stage landed on the drone ship successfully.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iCEBaLM ( 34905 )

        It was pretty obvious when they killed the webcast so quickly.

        https://twitter.com/chillichee... [twitter.com]

        • The feed drops out on every barge landing, and the quote is a bit ambiguous, but it seems that this time it's dead, yeah.

          • Re:Core stage? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @08:12PM (#56079981) Homepage

            Confirmed at the news conference [youtube.com]. Not enough fuel left on the central core; only one of the three engines managed to relight, and the stage hit the water at 300mph. However, SpaceX not only didn't plan not to use the central core again, but doesn't plan to use the side boosters either; they're not Block 5, and SpaceX only plans to re-launch Block 5 from now on. That said, the side boosters appear to be in good shape.

            The main concern right now is on the upper stage. They've never had a stage dwell so long in such a high radiation flux. It should re-light, but they won't know until they try.

            • Re:Core stage? (Score:5, Informative)

              by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2018 @01:11AM (#56081371)

              Slight correction: the core ran out of ignition fluid (a mix of triethylborane and triethylaluminum, ignites on contact with LOX (or most anything, really)), not fuel. A similar setup was used for both the Saturn V's F-1 engines, and the SR-71's J58 engines.

              And a status update: the second stage re-lit just fine, and in fact exceeded expectations - the aphelion of the orbit is well past Mars, just shy of Ceres in fact.

      • It landed in the water.

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:23PM (#56078875) Journal
      Awe-inspiring to watch those 2 boosters land in a flawless ballet of dust and fire. This is one for the history books.
      • Very much so. I wish I could have been there, but just watching it on TV was awe inspiring. I'm now really curious what the battery/solar setup on the payload is. Obviously Musk does both, and with dragon has the space experience. I'm wondering if we're going to get video from Spaceman in his Tesla for just a little while, or if he's got it set up to broadcast for the next decade.

        Knowing Musk, it's the latter.

    • Very exciting, though I couldn't help but notice that the supposedly different booster feeds were actually one duplicated feed. If you watch carefully at the buildings and roads you can see that they both show an identical landing on the bottom-right-most "X-only" pad, while the ground-level cam clearly shows the nearer one landing in the X-in-circle pad. You can even see circle-pad destined booster's flame at the top of both feeds.

      I assume somebody goofed with the feeds, and didn't notice in all the exci

      • Yup, I noticed that too when watching it live (even when they were saying they're different). I then re-watched it this morning and I noticed that they fixed the video so the bottom panels show different feeds.

        They also fixed the fairing separation - I didn't see it happen live, just heard the music and the cheers, but now you see it how it happened.

  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:15PM (#56078823) Journal

    many things are shitty nowadays - islamic fundamentalism, dying off of coral reefs, melting of permafrost, plastic pollution in the oceans, spreading of idiocracy.... one bright, very bright spot is Space X and a community of people (of which I am a member) that fervently follows the space programs, our steps into the new frontier.

    I feel lucky that there are other people like me, and I can interact with them through the Internet (mostly on reddit).

    • by BlackPignouf ( 1017012 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:28PM (#56078905)

      Indeed. It's a massive expenditure of energy, but at least it's not for high frequency trading or bitcoins!

      • It's a massive expenditure of energy, but at least it's not for high frequency trading or bitcoins!

        Good point.

      • You just gave me the idea for a new Crypto. Heres my whitepaper. MuskCoin can only be mined by launching a spaceship. One MuskCoin is 90 million dollars. I have already premined 0.5 MuskCoin as my fee for this Whitepaper

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sure, what they've done isn't exactly easy, but it's not as groundbreaking as you make it out to be. This is an incremental improvement on 1960s-era technologies. The hardest work underlying this technology was done before 1970. That earlier work was truly groundbreaking, and even more impressive because so much of it predated practical digital computing. They aren't 'stepping into a new frontier'. That was done decades ago by our grandparents, or even our great grandparents on some cases. The most innovati

      • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @06:13PM (#56079227)

        Let's be fair though - that first step into a new frontier was followed almost immediately by near-total retreat. This time the most important part of the engineering has been put front and center: the economics. We've just watched the most powerful rocket to fly in more than thirty years (by a factor of more than two) send an appreciable payload on an interplanetary trajectory, while landing all three first-stage boosters back on Earth (well, two of three, still waiting for confirmation on the core).

        Yeah, it's only the fourth most powerful rocket ever launched, and is more than a factor of two behind the Saturn V, the most powerful ever launched. But it landed again, and can (presumably) fly again, bringing the cost down to a fraction of anything flown before.

        This time when we go to space, we'll have a fair shot at staying there. And that is groundbreaking, in the farmer tilling his field sense. Going up turned out to be the easy part - coming down again in one piece, that's what will unlock space beyond Earth orbit as more than a research novelty.

      • True. I don't know why you got labeled as a troll. OTOH, it's good to see someone doing something that should have been done long ago. I was part of the space industry industry for a few decades and it was too frustrating to watch what people were (or were not doing). The whole goal AFAICT was to see how much money a contractor could extract from NASA. They would do the minimal amount of work necessary to get thd job done, which was all that NASA seemed to care about, while at the same time using up every
    • Me too! This makes me so happy! The ramifications for this successful launch and landings are just... just... .mind-boggling
    • by penandpaper ( 2463226 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @06:42PM (#56079409) Journal

      What ever is going on these days. Don't Panic!

  • by seoras ( 147590 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:16PM (#56078831)

    Undoubtedly the coolest technology test in history. Epic. Well done SpaceX! You've just inspired kids again like NASA did in the 60's.

    • Undoubtedly the coolest technology test in history. Epic.

      Well, coolest technology test since the first launch of a Saturn-V, anyway.

      Well done SpaceX! You've just inspired kids again like NASA did in the 60's.


      • by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:56PM (#56079093)

        I didn't see two parts of a Saturn V come in under rocket power for a simultaneous landing.

    • by wiggles ( 30088 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:55PM (#56079087)

      I was jumping up and down while my 7 year old kid was rolling his eyes and trying desperately to watch Pokemon on the cell phone.

      • by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .enimaf.copa.> on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @06:08PM (#56079187) Journal

        I called in "sick" and was trying not to spill my beer. :)

        I'm currently watching live video of the earth reflected off of Musk's personal Tesla Roadster. (SpaceX channel on youtube.)

        That's going to get pushed into a heliocentric orbit in 5 hrs, which will bring it close to Mars' orbit.

        This is pretty much the most mind-blowing thing that I've seen in a very, very long time. It's the goofball version of the first moon landing, since it involves a dummy in a car with the radio playing and "Don't Panic" displayed on the dashboard. But that doesn't really detract from what was done here. Still no confirmation of the center booster, but they landed at least 2 out of the three, and sent a payload into an orbit that could easily be a Mars supply run. And all far, far cheaper than NASA or anyone else could do it.

        On the first try.

        I can't imagine what the next decade is going to bring us.

  • by Maimun ( 631984 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:21PM (#56078869)
    Did the core of stage 1 land successfully?
  • by foxalopex ( 522681 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:27PM (#56078899)

    I have to admit I was watching it live and it looked like everything went smoothly as can be. I'm guessing SpaceX probably simulated everything for the launch but as they say sometimes you have to try it out in real-life to see if it really works! I imagine the United Launch Alliance might be panicking now as SpaceX is well on their way of making "Heavy" launches significantly cheaper as former heavy launches were all done by them with a significantly more expensive rocket.

    • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:41PM (#56079007)

      ULA's competition is what produces excellence in private-sector space operations, just as it does everywhere else in the economy. But now we are about to find out the biggest advantage of private space programs by far: the ability to take risks that no government program could contemplate.

      Though NASA is crammed with technical talent, and does very well at science missions, the flat-earth lobby will not let it take the risks with human crews that we need to move beyond LEO. That will be a job for entrepreneurs.

    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      Yes and no. The upper stage for the Delta IV heavy is much more performant than the Falcon 9 second stage. While the F9 can throw more weight to LEO, it's less clear when it comes to direct geostationary insertion.

      The other issue is that the F9/FH fairing is pretty close to being too small to actually use the FH's entire throw weight. The only way it could really actually launch the 60 tons or whatever would be if it was solid metal. A customer wanting to launch such a large load would alos have to pay for

      • With this FH launch they also demonstrated relight of second stage after 6h coast phase, that pretty much covers direct geostationary insertion, geostationary transfer orbit has period of 10.5h, you need a coast of half that for direct insertion or 5h15min. Also Falcon fairing is same size as Delta IV Heavy fairing, so no advantage there. There is also that tiny issue of price tag, 90M$ vs 400M$. Only way ULA gets any of the 5 upcoming Air Force launch bids, is as a charity case.
  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @05:33PM (#56078933) Homepage

    Even if the center core turned out to not land correctly, this is still absolutely amazing. The simultaneous landing of both the side boosters was literally awe-inspiring. SpaceX had initially said they might stagger their landings by a little in case one went wrong, but it looks like they had the hubris to land them both literally at the same time. And lesson there is hubris is fucking awesome, and those obnoxious Greek gods can go suck it.

    More seriously, this is going to have a massive impact on the heavy end of the launch market. Even without reuse, it looks like Falcon Heavy is going to be cheaper for almost all big payloads than any of the other heavy launchers, especially Ariane 5 and Delta Heavy. The only issue right now limiting its use are twofold: First, it has a relatively small fairing, so it is possible that some payloads will have volume issues- but that will be rare, and making a new fairing is something SpaceX may do if a customer is interested in it. Second, the Falcon Heavy is for pretty obvious reasons not man-rated. That may change in the future, and the current plan right now is to just man-rate the Falcon 9, but if the Falcon Heavy does get man-rated then there will be almost no market for anything else. If Grey Dragon or others can go on a Falcon Heavy it will be a very different situation. And of course, the Falcon Heavy doesn't have the same lift capability as the SLS, but the SLS still hasn't flown yet, and will cost literally a billion dollars or so a launch.

    • The simultaneous landing of both the side boosters was literally awe-inspiring.

      Oh man, you said it. I lost it somewhere between the lift-off and that awesome visual of both boosers landing simultaneously.

      A tiny, little, shy but manly tear rolling down them old cheecks.

      OK, maybe not that manly. I don't care.

      Even without reuse, it looks like Falcon Heavy is going to be cheaper for almost all big payloads than any of the other heavy launchers, especially Ariane 5 and Delta Heavy.

      I agree, but reusing the boosters would be more than just icing on the cake.

    • BFR is progressing nicely according to reports. I think the Heavy will have a short lifetime with the BFR taking over its role over the next 5 - 7 years. So amazing watching it lift off, i literally hung up after a fight with a sr. dev. right as it was taking off and so wasn't in the best of moods but it was pretty incredible nonetheless.
  • does not seem so.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward


  • The only way this could be cooler to hear about is if it was a 60's Corvette convertible; that's what this reminds me of. :-)
  • by catchblue22 ( 1004569 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @06:00PM (#56079131) Homepage

    Here is a tweet [twitter.com] with a view of monitors showing smoke clearing from the drone ship deck with no rocket aboard. It seems it missed the ship. Not too surprising as the centre core is a new machine that has never flown before. Also, the re-entry profile was likely one of the hottest ones they have tried.

  • Awe inspiring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JeffElkins ( 977243 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @06:05PM (#56079161)

    What a pleasure it was to see rockets land like God and Robert A. Heinlein intended!

  • They are streaming a live view of the star man here [youtube.com] It is rolling a bit...I believe this called a BBQ roll, to prevent the car from getting too hot in the sun.

  • by Mike Van Pelt ( 32582 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @06:21PM (#56079281)

    I noticed the words "Don't Panic" displayed in large, friendly letters on the Tesla's console.

    Let me make sure I have a firm grip on my towel.

  • by mccrew ( 62494 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @07:06PM (#56079585)

    After several years of our so-called "leaders" casting their eyes down, looking to the past, and pitting one against another in a zero-sum game, it is exhilarating to see what happened today.

    America is greatest when we look for hard - some might say impossible - challenges and go for it.

    And all this because of an immigrant.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @09:48PM (#56080431)
    There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering Kaboom!

Computer programmers do it byte by byte.