Falcon Heavy test flight

The Falcon Heavy test flight (also known as Falcon Heavy demonstration mission) was the first attempt by SpaceX to launch a Falcon Heavy rocket on February 6, 2018 at 20:45 UTC.[1] The successful test introduced the Falcon Heavy as the most powerful rocket in operation,[2] producing five million pounds-force (22 MN) of thrust and having more than twice the lift capacity of the NASA Space Shuttle launch system.[3]

Falcon Heavy test flight
Artistic depiction of a Falcon heavy rocket launching from the Earth, represented in the background by a circular patch.
Official insignia for the flight
Launch6 February 2018, 20:45 UTC
OperatorSpaceX
RocketFalcon Heavy R
PadKennedy LC-39A
PayloadElon Musk's Tesla Roadster
OutcomeSuccess
Components
Boosters
First stageB1033

Preparation

In April 2011, SpaceX was planning for a first launch of Falcon Heavy from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the West Coast in 2013.[4][5] It refurbished Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg AFB to accommodate Falcon 9 and Heavy. The first launch from the Cape Canaveral East Coast launch complex was planned for late 2013 or 2014.[6]

Due partly to the failure of SpaceX CRS-7 in June 2015, SpaceX rescheduled the maiden Falcon Heavy flight in September 2015 to occur no earlier than April 2016,[7] but by February 2016 had postponed it again to late 2016. The flight was to be launched from the refurbished Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A.[8][9]

In August 2016, the demonstration flight was moved to early 2017,[10] then to summer 2017,[11] to late 2017[12] and to January 2018.[13]

At a July 2017 meeting of the International Space Station Research and Development meeting in Washington, D.C., SpaceX CEO Elon Musk downplayed expectations for the success of the maiden flight:

There's a real good chance the vehicle won't make it to orbit ... 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.[14]

Musk went on to say the integration and structural challenges of combining three Falcon 9 cores were much more difficult than expected.[15][14] The plan was for all three cores to land back on Earth after launch.[16]

In December 2017, Musk tweeted that the dummy payload on the maiden Falcon Heavy launch would be his personal midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing David Bowie's "Life on Mars", and that it would be launched into an orbit around the Sun that will take it as far out as Mars' orbit.[16][17] He released pictures in the following days.[18] The car has three cameras attached that provided "epic views".[19]

On December 28, 2017, the Falcon Heavy was moved to the launch pad in preparation of a static fire test of all 27 engines, which was expected on January 19, 2018.[20] However, due to the U.S. government shutdown that began on January 20, the testing and launch were further delayed.[21]

The static fire test was conducted on January 24, 2018.[22][23] Musk confirmed via Twitter that the test "was good" and announced the rocket would be launched in approximately one week.[24]

Mission overview

The mission was the test flight of the Falcon Heavy, intended to demonstrate the rocket's capabilities while gathering telemetry throughout the flight.

Payload

Tesla Roadster in Falcon Heavy fairing
The payload, Elon Musk's original Roadster, mounted on the payload adapter inside the payload fairing
Tesla Roadster mounted on Falcon Heavy upper stage
The Roadster is permanently attached to the upper stage of the Falcon Heavy rocket.

The dummy payload for this test flight was a sports car, Tesla Roadster, owned by Elon Musk. SpaceX stated that the payload had to be "something fun and without irreplaceable sentimental value".[1] Sitting in the driver's seat of the Roadster is "Starman", a dummy astronaut clad in a SpaceX spacesuit.[25] It has his right hand on the steering wheel and left elbow resting on the open window sill. Starman is named for the David Bowie song "Starman".[25] The car's sound system was looping the symbolic Bowie songs "Space Oddity" and "Life on Mars?".[26][27]

It was launched with sufficient velocity to escape the Earth and enter an elliptic orbit around the Sun that crosses the orbit of Mars, reaching an aphelion (maximum distance from the Sun) of 1.66 AU.[28][29] During the early portion of its voyage it functioned as a broadcast device, sending video back to Earth for four hours. The Roadster remains attached to the second stage.[30]

This launcher demonstration made the Roadster the first consumer car sent into space.[31] Three manned rovers were sent to space on the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions in the 1970s, and these vehicles were left on the Moon.[32] The Roadster is one of two formerly manned vehicles (albeit not a manned space vehicle) derelict in solar orbit, joining LM-4 Snoopy, Apollo 10's lunar module ascent stage.[33][34]

Also, included was Arch Mission 1.2, which is a crystal disk containing Isaac Asimov's Foundation series of books, on the Tesla Roadster.[35]

There is a copy of Douglas Adams' 1979 novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the glovebox, along with references to the book in the form of a towel and a sign on the dashboard that reads "Don't Panic!".[36][37][38] A Hot Wheels miniature Roadster with a miniature Starman is mounted on the dashboard. A plaque bearing the names of the employees who worked on the project is underneath the car, and a message on the vehicle's circuit board reads "Made on Earth by humans".[39]

Rocket configuration

Falcon Heavy flew in its reusable configuration, allowing for a landing approach of both side boosters and the central core. The side boosters consisted of two previously flown Falcon 9 first stages, being reused from the CRS-9 mission in July 2016 and the Thaicom 8 launch in May 2016.[40] The central core was newly built because it needs to support stronger forces during ascent, so that a regular first stage could not be used. The upper stage was the same as on a Falcon 9.[3][25][41]

Side boosters equipped with a nose cone have different aerodynamic properties than the usual Falcon 9 boosters with a cylindric interstage. For this reason, SpaceX equipped them with larger and sturdier grid fins made of titanium, to help guide the atmospheric descent accurately.[42] The central core, however, still used conventional aluminum grid fins, as its aerodynamic properties are very similar to those of a conventional Falcon 9 first stage.

The Roadster was mounted on the second stage using a custom-made payload adapter, and was encapsulated in a conventional fairing.[43] Falcon Heavy also supports the launch of Dragon capsules without a fairing.[44]

Falcon Heavy stages[45]
Stage Booster[a][46] Version[b] Previous flight № Previous launch Turnaround time Previous payload Landing outcome Status[47]
1st (side) B1023.2 ♺ Full Thrust F9-025 27 May 2016 1y 8m 10d Thaicom 8[48] Success Retired[49]
1st (core) B1033.1 Heavy core N/A N/A N/A N/A Failure Destroyed[50]
1st (side) B1025.2 ♺ Full Thrust F9-027 18 July 2016 1y 6m 21d Dragon CRS-9[51] Success Retired[49]
2nd (upper) N/A FT Vacuum Stage N/A N/A N/A N/A escape orbit Heliocentric orbit

Objectives

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster (40110304192)
Last transmitted view en route away from Earth

The Falcon Heavy maiden flight was intended to accomplish several objectives:

  • launch the Falcon Heavy from the pad through the atmosphere, including Max Q flight phase;
  • separate the side booster cores from the continuing first stage center core and upper stage
  • return the two side boosters to Cape Canaveral and land them simultaneously at Landing Zones 1 and 2
  • separate the center core and light the upper stage to orbit insertion
  • land the central first stage booster core on an autonomous spaceport drone ship, the Of Course I Still Love You, in the Atlantic Ocean
  • relight the upper stage to orbit in the van Allen belts for several hours to show radiation resistance
  • relight the upper stage again to put the payload into its heliocentric orbit, demonstrating a lifetime for the upper stage suitable for geosynchronous orbit insertion.
  • recover the payload fairing[52]

The purpose of including the Roadster on the maiden flight was to demonstrate that the Falcon Heavy can launch payloads as far as the orbit of Mars, and it exceeded its projected route by extending its aphelion to near the asteroid belt beyond Mars (with a perihelion at the level of Earth's orbit),[53] but did not test or demonstrate the separation of the second stage and a payload.

Flight timeline

After a delay of over two hours due to high winds, the launch occurred at 3:45 PM EST, or 20:45 UTC, from Launchpad 39A at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida; the Roadster was successfully placed in its orbit, and its two booster cores returned to land at Landing Zones 1 and 2 several minutes later. The sole objective not completed was the landing of the central core; while its fate was initially ambiguous due to signal loss and heavy smoke, Musk confirmed several hours after the launch that the booster had not survived the recovery attempt.[54] Because two of the three engines necessary to land were unable to reignite, the booster hit the water at 500 kilometres per hour, 100 metres away from the drone ship.[55] The final upper stage transfer burn to solar orbit produced an orbit that will be beyond the orbit of Mars at its furthest point from the sun.[56][57]

As the launch was a success, most planned events took place in the planned point of time. As the central core landing burn wasn't performed correctly, the exact time of the landing attempt is not known.[58]

The mission timeline was (all times approximate):[1]

Start Time End Time Event
T−01:28:00 Go/no go for propellant load
T−01:25:00 RP-1 kerosene loading underway
T−00:45:00 Liquid-oxygen loading underway
T−00:07:00 Start of engine chill
T−00:01:00 Start of pre-launch checks
T−00:01:00 Propellant-tank flight pressurisation
T−00:00:45 Go/no go for launch
T−00:00:05 Side boosters start
T−00:00:03 Center booster starts
T−00:00:00 Liftoff
T+00:00:40 Side boosters throttled down
T+00:01:06 Max-Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on rocket)
~T+00:01:10 Side boosters throttled up
~T+00:02:10 Side boosters throttled down again
T+00:02:29 Booster engines cutoff (BECO)
T+00:02:33 Side cores separate from center core
T+00:02:50 Side cores begin boostback burn
T+00:03:04 Center core engine shutdown/main engine cutoff (MECO)
T+00:03:07 Center core and 2nd stage separates
T+00:03:15 2nd stage engine starts
T+00:03:24 Center core begins boostback burn
T+00:03:49 Fairing deployment
T+00:06:41 Side cores begins entry burn
T+00:06:47 Center core begins entry burn
T+00:07:58 Side cores landing
T+00:08:19 Center core landing
T+00:08:31 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
T+00:28:22 T+00:28:52 2nd stage engine restarts
T+00:28:52 T+06:00:00 6 hour experiment on Van Allen Radiation Belts
T+06:00:00 2nd stage engine restarts for a third time

In the above table, events are colour coded.

This event was a failure
This event was a success

Outcome

Launch

Falcon Heavy Demo Mission (40126461851)
Launch from Kennedy Space Center

Although Elon Musk had publicly declared that there is a 50-50 chance of success, the rocket performed nominally and launched on schedule, followed by nominal separation of the side-boosters (first stage), and soon after, by the central core booster (second stage).[59] Valuable telemetry data on the performance of the launch system and its components were obtained for all stages of the test flight.

Boosters

Falcon Heavy Side Boosters landing on LZ1 and LZ2 - 2018 (25254688767)
The two boosters landing at LZ-1 and LZ-2 at Cape Canaveral

Both boosters successfully landed almost simultaneously on the ground at Landing Zones 1 and 2 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As the boosters were from an older generation of the Falcon 9 booster, SpaceX has ruled out using any of their major parts for a third mission. Due to the high cost and lengthy manufacturing process of the grid fins, however, those might be reused on future flights.[60]

Central core

The central core attempted to return to the autonomous spaceport drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" but failed to light two of the three engines during the landing burn. The core crashed into the ocean 100 metres (300 ft) away from the drone ship at 500 kilometres per hour (300 mph), causing damage to two of the drone ship's station-keeping thrusters. According to Elon Musk on the post-flight conference, the central core ran out of triethylaluminum-triethylborane (TEA-TEB) igniter fluid.[61] Musk later stated that the fix to this problem was "pretty obvious", which led many to believe SpaceX was simply going to add more ignition fluid on future missions.[58] As SpaceX plans to only use Block 5 hardware for future Falcon 9 launches, the Block 3 center core loss does not impact future SpaceX operations.[62]

Final stage

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster (40143096241)
"Starman" seated in the Roadster

The second stage fired three times before placing the dummy payload in a heliocentric orbit, with an aphelion of 1.70 AU,[63] beyond Mars. The payload has an orbital period of 1.53 years. The first four hours of the flight were streamed live on YouTube.[56] The last image released to the public was taken after the second stage finished burning all of its fuel, and showed Starman leaving Earth behind.[64] Batteries were expected to last about 12 hours.[65] NASA added the second stage to its database for tracking Solar System objects, and it is not expected to make any close encounters with Earth before 2091.[66]

Reactions

The live webcast proved immensely popular, as it became the second most watched livestream ever on Youtube, reaching over 2.3 million concurrent views.[67] Approximately 100,000 people watched the launch from Cape Canaveral.[68]

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted:[69]

Congratulations @ElonMusk and @SpaceX on the successful #FalconHeavy launch. This achievement, along with @NASA’s commercial and international partners, continues to show American ingenuity at its best!

Former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver advocated the cancellation of the Space Launch System program as a consequence of the success of this demonstration.[70]

Later, Elon Musk released a video highlighting the flight, and thanking fans.[71][72]

Life cannot just be about solving one sad problem after another. There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity. That is why we did it. We did for you.[73]

Gallery

Falcon Heavy clearing the tower 04

First launch of the Falcon Heavy

Falcon Heavy Demo Mission (40126462231)

Falcon Heavy ascending

Tesla Roadster orbital diagram

Expected elliptical orbital path outside Mars

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster (40143096241)

Roadster with Starman in orbit

Footnotes

  1. ^ Bold entries are core boosters presumed available as active fleet: those which have not been expended, destroyed or officially retired.
  2. ^ Entries with colored background and ♺ symbol denote flights using refurbished boosters from previous flights.

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External links

Arch Mission Foundation

Arch Mission Foundation is a non-profit organization whose goal is to create multiple redundant repositories of human knowledge around the Solar System, including on Earth. It was founded by Nova Spivack and Nick Slavin in 2015 and incorporated in 2016.

Autonomous spaceport drone ship

An autonomous spaceport drone ship (ASDS) is an ocean-going vessel derived from a deck barge, outfitted with station-keeping engines and a large landing platform. Construction of such ships was commissioned by aerospace company SpaceX to allow for recovery of rocket first-stages at sea for high-velocity missions which do not carry enough fuel to return to the launch site after boosting spacecraft onto an orbital trajectory.SpaceX has two operational drone ships and has a third under construction as of early 2018. Just Read the Instructions operates in the Pacific for launches from Vandenberg; Of Course I Still Love You operates in the Atlantic for launches from Cape Canaveral. A Shortfall of Gravitas is under construction. As of 11 January 2019, 26 Falcon 9 flights have attempted to land on a drone ship, with 20 of them succeeding.

The ASDS ships are a key early operational component in the SpaceX objective to significantly lower the price of space launch services through "full and rapid reusability," and were developed as part of the multi-year reusable rocket development program SpaceX undertook to engineer the technology. Any Falcon flights going to geostationary orbit or exceeding escape velocity require landing at sea, encompassing about half of SpaceX missions.

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster is an electric sports car that served as the dummy payload for the February 2018 Falcon Heavy test flight and became an artificial satellite of the Sun. "Starman", a mannequin dressed in a spacesuit, occupies the driver's seat. The car and rocket are products of Tesla and SpaceX, respectively, both companies founded by Elon Musk. The 2008-model Roadster was previously used by Musk for commuting to work, and is the only production car in space.

The car, mounted on the rocket's second stage, acquired enough velocity to escape Earth's gravity and enter an elliptical heliocentric orbit crossing the orbit of Mars. The orbit reaches a maximum distance from the Sun at aphelion of 1.66 astronomical units (au). During the early portion of the voyage outside the Earth's atmosphere, live video was transmitted back to the mission control center and live-streamed for slightly over four hours.Advertising analysts noted Musk's sense of brand management and use of new media for his decision to launch a Tesla into space. While some commenters voiced concern that the car contributed to space debris, others saw it as a work of art. Musk explained he wanted to inspire the public about the "possibility of something new happening in space," as part of his larger vision for spreading humanity to other planets.

Falcon 9

Falcon 9 is a two-stage-to-orbit medium lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX in the United States. It is powered by Merlin engines, also developed by SpaceX, burning liquid oxygen (LOX) and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellants. It was named after the Millennium Falcon and the nine engines of the rocket's first stage. The rocket evolved with versions v1.0 (2010–2013), v1.1 (2013–2016), v1.2 "Full Thrust" (2015–2018), and its Block 5 variant, flying since May 2018. Unlike most rockets, which are expendable launch systems, Falcon 9 is partially reusable, with the first stage capable of re-entering the atmosphere and landing back vertically after separating from the second stage. This feat was achieved for the first time on flight 20 with the v1.2 version in December 2015.

Falcon 9 can lift payloads of up to 22,800 kilograms (50,300 lb) to low Earth orbit, 8,300 kg (18,300 lb) to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) when expended, and 5,500 kg (12,100 lb) to GTO when the first stage is recovered. The heaviest GTO payloads were Intelsat 35e with 6,761 kg (14,905 lb), and Telstar 19V with 7,075 kg (15,598 lb), although the latter was launched into a lower-energy GTO orbit achieving an apogee well below the geostationary altitude.In 2008, SpaceX won a Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract in NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) using the Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule. The first mission under this contract launched in October 2012. SpaceX intends to certify the Falcon 9 to be human-rated for transporting NASA astronauts to the ISS as part of the Commercial Crew Development program.

The initial Falcon 9 version 1.0 flew five times from June 2010 to March 2013; version 1.1 flew fifteen times from September 2013 to January 2016. The "Full Thrust" version has been in service since December 2015, with several additional upgrades within this version. The latest variant of it, Block 5, was introduced in May 2018. It features increased engine thrust, improved landing legs, and other minor improvements to help recovery and reuse. The Falcon Heavy derivative, introduced in February 2018, consists of a strengthened Falcon 9 first stage as its center core, attached to two standard Falcon 9 first stages used as boosters.

Falcon 9 booster B1023

Falcon 9 booster B1023 is a first-stage reusable rocket booster for the Falcon 9 orbital launch vehicle manufactured by SpaceX. B1023 became the second successful return from a GTO launch, and later became the first booster to be reflown after being recovered from a GTO launch.

List of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches

Since their first mission in June 2010, rockets from the Falcon 9 family have been launched 68 times, with 66 full mission successes, one partial failure and one total loss of spacecraft. In addition, one rocket and its payload were destroyed on the launch pad in the fueling process before a static fire test.

Designed and operated by private manufacturer SpaceX, the Falcon 9 rocket family includes the retired versions Falcon 9 v1.0, v1.1, and v1.2 "Full Thrust", along with the currently active Block 5 evolution. Falcon Heavy is a heavy-lift derivative of Falcon 9, combining a strengthened central core with two Falcon 9 first stages as side boosters.The Falcon design features reusable first-stage boosters, landing either on a ground pad near the launch site, or on a drone ship at sea. In December 2015, Falcon 9 became the first rocket to land propulsively after delivering a payload to orbit. This achievement is expected to significantly reduce launch costs. Falcon 9 core boosters have successfully landed 33 times in 40 attempts. 18 of them have flown a second mission, including two as Falcon Heavy side boosters, and one booster (serial B1046) has flown three missions.

Falcon 9's typical missions include cargo delivery to the International Space Station (ISS) with the Dragon capsule, launch of communications satellites and Earth observation satellites to geostationary transfer orbits (GTO), and low-Earth orbits (LEO), some of them at polar inclinations. The heaviest payloads launched to date were batches of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites weighing 9,600 kg (21,200 lb) to a 625 km (388 mi) low Earth orbit (LEO), and Intelsat 35e with 6,761 kg (14,905 lb) to GTO. Launches to higher orbits have included the DSCOVR probe to the Sun–Earth Lagrangian point L1, the TESS space telescope launched on a Lunar flyby trajectory, and the Falcon Heavy test flight whose payload, a Tesla roadster, escaped Earth's gravity well and reached a heliocentric orbit extending beyond the orbit of Mars.

List of Falcon 9 first-stage boosters

A Falcon 9 first-stage booster is a reusable rocket booster used on the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital launch vehicles manufactured by SpaceX. The manufacture of first-stage booster constitutes about 60% of the launch price of a single Falcon 9 (and three of them over 80% of the launch price of a Falcon Heavy), which led SpaceX to develop a program dedicated to recovery and reuse of these boosters for a significant decrease in launch costs. After multiple attempts, some as early as 2010, at controlling the reentry of the first stage after its separation from the second stage, the first successful controlled landing of a first stage occurred on 22 December 2015, on the first flight of the Full Thrust version. Since then, Falcon 9 first-stage boosters have been landed and recovered 33 times out of 40 attempts, including a synchronized recovery of the two side-boosters of the Falcon Heavy test flight.

As of 11 January 2019, 18 recovered boosters were refurbished and subsequently flown a second time, including B1046 which conducted three missions. Four Block 5 boosters were recovered and are potentially available for future flights. SpaceX intentionally limited Block 3 and Block 4 boosters to flying only two missions each, but the company expects the Block 5 versions to achieve 10 flights each without major refurbishment and up to 100 with regular refurbishment.

Modular rocket

A modular rocket is a type of multistage rocket which features components that can be interchanged for specific mission requirements. Several such rockets use similar concepts such as unified modules to minimize expenses on manufacturing, transportation and for optimization of support infrastructure for flight preparations.

The National Launch System study (1991-1992) looked at future launchers in a modular (cluster) fashion.

This concept has existed since the creation of NASA.

Music in space

Music in space is music played in or broadcast from a spacecraft in outer space. According to the Smithsonian Institution, the first musical instruments played in outer space were an 8-note Hohner "Little Lady" harmonica and a handful of small bells carried by American astronauts Wally Schirra and Thomas P. Stafford aboard Gemini 6A. Upon achieving a space rendezvous in Earth orbit with their sister ship Gemini 7 in December 1965, Schirra and Stafford played a rendition of "Jingle Bells" over the radio after jokingly claiming to have seen an unidentified flying object piloted by Santa Claus. The instruments had been smuggled on-board without NASA's knowledge, leading Mission Control director Elliot See to exclaim "You're too much" to Schirra after the song. The harmonica was donated to the Smithsonian by Schirra in 1967, with his note that it "...plays quite well".In the 1970s music tape cassettes were brought to the American space station Skylab, while Soviet cosmonauts Aleksandr Laveikin and Yuri Romanenko brought a guitar to the space station Mir in 1987. Musical instruments must be checked for gases they may emit before being taken aboard the confined environment of a space station. As of 2003, instruments that have been aboard the International Space Station include a flute, a keyboard guitar, a saxophone, and a didgeridoo.Music in space has been a focal point of public relation events of various human spaceflight programs. NASA astronaut Carl Walz played a rendition of the Elvis Presley song "Heartbreak Hotel" aboard the ISS in 2003 which was also recorded and transmitted to Earth. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, commander of Expedition 35 to the International Space Station, recorded a music video of the song "Space Oddity" by David Bowie aboard the space station. The first music video ever shot in space, the video went viral and received widespread international media coverage after being posted to YouTube. Bowie himself later called the cover "possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created".

SpaceX reusable launch system development program

The SpaceX reusable launch system development program is a privately funded program to develop a set of new technologies for an orbital launch system that may be reused many times in a manner similar to the reusability of aircraft. The company SpaceX is developing the technologies over a number of years to facilitate full and rapid reusability of space launch vehicles. The project's long-term objectives include returning a launch vehicle first stage to the launch site in minutes and to return a second stage to the launch pad following orbital realignment with the launch site and atmospheric reentry in up to 24 hours. SpaceX's long term goal is that both stages of their orbital launch vehicle will be designed to allow reuse a few hours after return.The program was publicly announced in 2011. SpaceX first achieved a successful landing and recovery of a first stage in December 2015. The first re-flight of a landed first stage occurred in March 2017 with the second occurring in June 2017, that one only five months after the maiden flight of the booster. The third attempt occurred in October 2017 with the SES-11/EchoStar-105 mission. Second flights of refurbished first stages then became routine.

The reusable launch system technology was developed and initially used for the first stages of the Falcon family of rockets. After stage separation, the return process involves flipping the booster around, an optional boostback burn to reverse its course, a reentry burn, controlling direction to arrive at the landing site and a landing burn to effect the final low-altitude deceleration and touchdown.

SpaceX intended (from at least 2014) to develop technology to extend reusable flight hardware to second stages, a more challenging engineering problem because the vehicle is travelling at orbital velocity,

which is considered paramount to the plans Elon Musk is championing to enable the settlement of Mars. It is thus planned to be developed for all of the flight hardware for the new SpaceX vehicles planned to transit to Mars, with initial test flights expected no earlier than 2020. SpaceX will also experiment with second stage recovery on a few select Falcon 9 flights or Falcon Heavy flights.

After 2017, much of the reusable technology development work and testing turned substantially toward advances in reusable second-stage-with-integrated-spaceship technology to support BFR use not merely in Earth's atmosphere, but also as intended to be used on Solar system celestial bodies such as the Moon and Mars with very diverse atmospheric characteristics.

Space Coast

The Space Coast is a region in the U.S. state of Florida around the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. All of NASA-launched manned spaceflights (running from Project Mercury in 1961 to the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011) have departed from either KSC or Cape Canaveral. The Air Force Station has also launched unmanned military and civilian rockets. Cities in the area include Titusville, Cocoa, Rockledge, Cape Canaveral, Merritt Island (unincorporated), Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Indialantic, Palm Bay, and Viera (unincorporated). Most of the area lies within Brevard County. It is bounded on the south by the Treasure Coast, on the west and north by Central Florida (and is economically tied to that region), and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

One reason rockets are launched in Florida has to do with the Earth's rotation. The Earth rotates most quickly at the equator, and to take advantage of this, in adding to the orbital velocity of the rocket, it is most beneficial to launch from a southerly location (near the equator). In addition, to take advantage of the direction of rotation of the planet, launching from a location on an easterly coast where there is no inhabited population where debris would land in an emergency would be ideal for both the safety of the people on the ground and for fuel efficiency of the rocket. The only locations in the United States capable of this are on the east coasts of Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, but given the high population densities in coastal Texas, South Florida, and Puerto Rico, the Space Coast is the best location when all factors are taken into account.

Space advertising

Space advertising is the use of advertising in outer space or related to space flight. While there have only been a few examples of successful marketing campaigns, there have been several proposals to advertise in space, some even planning to launch giant billboards visible from the Earth. Obtrusive space advertising is the term used for such ventures.

Tim Dodd

Tim Dodd (born February 27, 1985), also known by his internet moniker 'The Everyday Astronaut', is a YouTuber, photographer, and musician. In 2013, he purchased an orange Russian high-altitude flight suit in an online auction and later took photos of himself in the suit at a 2014 rocket launch in Cape Canaveral, Florida, as a joke. In late 2016 he grew dissatisfied with photography as his main means of employment, and continued to pursue his 'Everyday Astronaut' internet persona on Instagram and Twitch. In 2017 he created a YouTube channel covering spaceflight education, and became his primary occupation.

Timeline of artificial satellites and space probes

This timeline of artificial satellites and space probes includes unmanned spacecraft including technology demonstrators, observatories, lunar probes, and interplanetary probes. First satellites from each country are included. Not included are most earth science satellites, commercial satellites or manned missions.

Key: Year – Origin – Target – Status – Description

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