Amazing photos from SpaceX's Falcon Heavy USSF-44 mission
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket currently flying, launched a handful of classified payloads for the U.S. Space Force on Nov. 1, 2022. It was the first Falcon Heavy mission since June 2019.
The mission, called USSF-44, lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Two of the Falcon Heavy's three core boosters returned for successful touchdowns at nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station; the rocket's central booster ditched into the sea rather than attempt its own landing, because the demanding mission used up most of its propellant.
See photos of the launch and booster landings, as well as some of the prep work leading up to the liftoff, in this gallery.
Related: Why SpaceX hadn't flown a Falcon Heavy rocket since 2019
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket rides a pillar of flame into the Florida sky on the USSF-44 mission on Nov. 1, 2022.
A close-up view of the Falcon Heavy in flight on the USSF-44 mission. The powerful launcher's first stage consists of three strapped-together Falcon 9 rockets.
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy climbs into the sky on the USSF-44 mission for the U.S. Space Force on Nov. 1, 2022.
The Falcon Heavy carried classified payloads to geostationary orbit on the USSF-44 mission on Nov. 1, 2022.
This screengrab shows the two side Falcon Heavy first-stage boosters coming down for landings at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station about 8.5 minutes after liftoff on Nov. 1, 2022. The Heavy's central booster did not attempt a landing, instead ditching into the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the Falcon Heavy's two side boosters comes down for a landing at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station during the USSF-44 mission on Nov. 1, 2022.
The two side boosters of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy touch down at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Nov. 1, 2022.
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket stands at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A on Oct. 31, 2022, a day before lifting off on the USSF-44 mission for the U.S. Space Force.
SpaceX rolls its Falcon Heavy rocket out to Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 31, 2022, ahead of its Nov. 1 liftoff.
SpaceX performs a static fire test with its Falcon Heavy rocket at Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 27, 2022. The successful static fire, conducted without the USSF-44 payloads on the rocket, paved the way for liftoff on Nov. 1.
This photo, which SpaceX posted on Twitter on Oct. 23, 2022, shows the 27 first-stage Merlin engines of the Falcon Heavy rocket that flew the USSF-44 mission for the U.S. Space Force on Nov. 1.