The Falcon Heavy seen from a Merritt Island pavilion
The Falcon Heavy seen from a Merritt Island pavilion
© Lisa Malone pour A&C

The Falcon Heavy seen from a Merritt Island pavilion

Each weekend, an image that made the news or caught our attention. On May 1, SpaceX performed its 20th launch in five months from Florida; some people watch it from their backyard.

GEO Live

For its 27th launch of the year and 20th from Florida (in this case the Kennedy Space Center), SpaceX used its Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, which was performing its 6th mission since February 2018 and the second this year.

The mission objective was to place directly into geostationary orbit (GEO) two communications satellites, Viasat 3 Americas (approximately 6.4 tons at liftoff) and Arcturus (300 kg), for U.S. operator Viasat and Astranis / Pacific Dataport, as well as the cubesat 16U G-Space 1 (22 kg) for Indonesia's PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara.


No recovery

After several postponements notably caused by very difficult weather conditions (with lightning and tornado warnings), takeoff finally occurred on May 1 at 12:26 a.m. UTC (8:26 p.m. the previous day, local time).

For the first time, the Falcon Heavy was used in a " consumable " version, and none of its three stages (two of which were second-hand) made a controlled return to Earth at the end of the mission.

But the two half-caps, on the other hand, were recovered at sea, about 2 000 km off the coast.


The place to be

This photograph of the Falcon Heavy crossing the Florida sky before nightfall was taken from the front yard of an individual property on Merritt Island, about 25 km south of the launch pad.

It was sent to us by Lisa Malone, former director of public affairs for the space center, who comments  " You can see my neighbors' houses and palm trees as we watched the heavy Falcon rise into the twilight sky. Surprisingly, the noise was not as loud as I imagined. "

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