Spaceflight

In Photos: SpaceX's 1st Falcon Heavy Rocket Test Launch Success!

Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

A Historic Launch

SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket soars into the sky after a successful liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Feb. 6, 2018. Original Image
Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX launched its huge new Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time on Feb. 6, 2018. It is the most powerful U.S. rocket since NASA's mighty Saturn V! See photos of the powerful booster and its unusual payload - SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster electric car, here. This Image: The Falcon Heavy rocket stands at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 28, 2017.

Success for SpaceX

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket takes off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Feb. 6, 2018. Original Image
Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket takes off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Feb. 6, 2018.

Falcon Heavy Launch

Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket soars into the sky after a successful liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Feb. 6, 2018.

The Falcon Flies Over Kennedy Space Center

Credit: Kim Shiflett/NASA

A view of the Falcon Heavy launch shows SpaceX's Horizontal Integration Facility at Kennedy Space Center.

Up, up and away!

Credit: Kim Shiflett/NASA

The Falcon Heavy rocket, which is essentially composed of three Falcon 9 rockets, soars into space.

Rocket Exhaust

Credit: Kim Shiflett/NASA

The rocket left a cloud of steam and exhaust as it took to the skies.

Falcon Heavy's Trail

Credit: SpaceX

A long-exposure photo of the Falcon Heavy rocket's first test launch on Feb. 6, 2018 shows the rocket's curved trajectory as it lifts off from Kennedy Space Center and heads toward low-Earth orbit.

Boosters Land

Credit: Kim Shiflett/NASA

Two of the boosters land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after the launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

Boosters Land

Credit: SpaceX

...a closer look.

Double Touchdown!

Falcon Heavy Launch Original Image
Credit: SpaceX

Two side boosters of SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket returned to Cape Canaveral for a glorious side-by-side landing shortly after the new megarocket launched on its maiden voyage on Feb. 6.

Falcon Heavy Launch

Falcon Heavy Launch Original Image
Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket takes off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Feb. 6, 2018.

Falcon Heavy Launch

Falcon Heavy Launch Original Image
Credit: SpaceX

Another view of the Falcon Heavy rocket launch shows the launch towers at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A.

First Falcon Heavy on the Pad

Credit: SpaceX

The Falcon Heavy rocket stands tall on Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

'Starman'

Credit: Elon Musk

This dummy payload, a mannequin by the name of "Starman" in a cherry-red Tesla Roadster electric car, launched on the Falcon Heavy.

Live Views of Starman

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX broadcasted live views of "Starman" in his cherry-red Tesla following the launch. The car and mannequin served as a dummy payload for the Falcon Heavy's maiden launch.

Live Views of Starman

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX broadcasted live views of "Starman" in his cherry-red Tesla following the launch. The car and mannequin served as a dummy payload for the Falcon Heavy's maiden launch.

Falcon Heavy Launch

Credit: CRISTOBAL HERRERA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket soars into the sky after a successful liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Feb. 6, 2018.

27 First-Stage Engines

Credit: SpaceX

The Falcon Heavy's first stage is essentially three Falcon 9 rocket cores strapped together — meaning the big booster will have 27 Merlin engines firing in unison at liftoff.

The Powerhouse

The 27 engines of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket are front and center during assembly in this photo tweeted by Elon Musk on Dec. 20, 2017. Original Image
Credit: SpaceX/Elon Musk

Here's a closer look at the engines of the Falcon Heavy, which Elon Musk Tweeted out in December.

Special Cargo for Maiden Flight

Credit: SpaceX

A peek inside the Falcon Heavy's payload fairing reveals a red Tesla Roadster — a vehicle built by Musk's electric-car company.

How It Works

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is a heavy-lift booster that will be the largest, most powerful privately built rocket in history. See how SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket will work in this Space.com infographic. Original Image
Credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is a heavy-lift booster that will be the largest, most powerful privately built rocket in history. See how SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket will work in this Space.com infographic.

A Powerful Rocket

Credit: SpaceX

The Falcon Heavy will generate more than 5 million lbs. of thrust at liftoff, making it twice as powerful as any other booster operating today, SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk has said.

Falcon Heavy Upper Stage

Credit: SpaceX

The Heavy's upper stage is similar to that of a Falcon 9, powered by a single Merlin engine.

Headed for a Billion-Year Orbit

Credit: SpaceX

"Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring," Musk wrote on Instagram in December 2017. "Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing 'Space Oddity,' on a billion-year elliptic Mars orbit."

Red Car, Red Planet

Credit: SpaceX

The Roadster's color is a nod to Mars, which the car will approach at times during its long loop around the sun. The car won't actually land or, or orbit, the Red Planet, however.

Tesla Roadster: Another View

Credit: SpaceX

Mars has long been in SpaceX's sights. Musk aims to help establish a million-person city on the Red Planet in the next half-century or so, using a rocket-spaceship combo called the BFR — the next-generation heavy-lifter after Falcon Heavy.

Dwarfed by the Fairing

Credit: SpaceX

The Roadster gives some perspective, showing how big the Heavy's payload fairing is.

Ready to Launch

Credit: SpaceX

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster isn't the first weird payload to launch on a SpaceX rocket's debut flight. The first Falcon 9 launch carried, of all things, a wheel of cheese into space.

Will the Roadster Survive?

Credit: SpaceX

The maiden flights of new rockets don't always go well, and Musk has said there's a good chance the Falcon Heavy won't survive its upcoming liftoff. "I hope it makes it far enough away from the pad that it does not cause pad damage. I would consider even that a win, to be honest," he said at a conference last July. 

A Megarocket Slumber

SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy rocket, a massive heavy-lift launch vehicle, is seen during assembly ahead of its first test flight from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket's first flight is expected in January 2018. Original Image
Credit: SpaceX/Elon Musk

SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy rocket, a massive heavy-lift launch vehicle, is seen during assembly ahead of its first test flight from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Static Fire

SpaceX performed the first static-fire test of a Falcon Heavy rocket core at the company's Texas test facility in early May 2017. Original Image
Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX performed the first static-fire test of a Falcon Heavy rocket core at the company's Texas test facility in early May 2017.

Landing Legs

The Falcon Heavy was designed to be reusable. Both the center core and the side boosters carry landing legs, which will land each core on Earth after takeoff. Original Image
Credit: SpaceX

The Falcon Heavy was designed to be reusable. Both the center core and the side boosters carry landing legs, which will land each core on Earth after takeoff.

The Octaweb

Booster basics: The Falcon Heavy's Octaweb clustering of Merlin engines. Original Image
Credit: SpaceX

The 27 Merlin engines that power the Falcon Heavy's three cores are arranged in an "Octaweb" configuration.

Falcon Heavy on the Pad

Credit: Robert Pearlman/CollectSPACE.com

The Falcon Heavy rocket stands tall on Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Falcon Heavy on the Pad

Credit: Robert Pearlman/CollectSPACE.com

The Falcon Heavy rocket stands tall on Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Falcon Heavy on the Pad

Credit: Robert Pearlman/CollectSPACE.com

The Falcon Heavy rocket stands tall on Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Falcon Heavy Launch

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket soars into the sky after a successful liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Feb. 6, 2018.

Falcon Heavy Stage 2

Credit: SpaceX

In this screenshot from SpaceX's live webcast of the launch, you can see some of the equipment used to hold the three boosters together.

Booster Separation

Credit: SpaceX

Seconds after the booster engines cut off, the three stages separated and prepared to return to Earth for a triple landing.

Falcon Heavy Stage 2

Credit: SpaceX

The Falcon Heavy's second stage is pictured above the Earth just before the payload fairings were jettisoned.

Falcon Heavy Stage 2

Credit: SpaceX

A view of the Tesla Roadster above the ocean as it heads into space

Live Views of Starman

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX broadcasted live views of "Starman" in his cherry-red Tesla following the launch. The car and mannequin served as a dummy payload for the Falcon Heavy's maiden launch.

Live Views of Starman

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX broadcasted live views of "Starman" in his cherry-red Tesla following the launch. The car and mannequin served as a dummy payload for the Falcon Heavy's maiden launch.

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