SpaceX's Falcon Heavy megarocket completed its first-ever launch today (Feb. 6), lifting off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch was jam-packed with incredible moments, captured in jaw-dropping photos. Here are some of our favorite images of the day.
A few moments later, the rocket reached max Q, or the point at which the rocket experiences the maximum pressure load that it will undergo during the flight. The three flaming boosters burned steadily as the rocket headed skyward.
Two of the Falcon Heavy's first-stage boosters returned to Earth and completed a synchronized touchdown on two land-based pads. Watching one booster complete this maneuver is awesome — watching two boosters do it at the same time was like watching a science-fiction movie.
This was a test flight for Falcon Heavy, so SpaceX did not load up the rocket with a real payload. Instead, Elon Musk, the company's founder and CEO, put a Tesla Roadster on board, carrying a mannequin passenger named "Starman." Cameras mounted on the payload delivered amazing views of Starman and the Roadster hovering over the ocean early in the flight.
Later, SpaceX posted on YouTube a livestream from one of the cameras, which shows the Roadster orbiting Earth as a part of a planned 6-hour cruise phase. The curvature of the Earth is visible behind Starman's head, and a remarkable amount of detail can be seen on the planet, including clouds and the glint of the ocean. When the planet drifts out of view, the camera captures the pure blackness of space.
What were your favorite moments from the launch?
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!
Calla Cofield joined Space.com's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Space.com Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left Space.com to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter