Falcon Heavy: How to watch the world's most powerful rocket launch tomorrow
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful operational rocket, is expected to launch into orbit for the first time in over three years tomorrow, November 1. Two of the launch system's three boosters will return to Earth for a dramatic side-by-side landing a few minutes after the launch.
USSF-44 will be the first Falcon Heavy launch since June 2019 — due to a string of payload delays exacerbated by the pandemic — and it will only be the fourth launch in the rocket's history. The rare launch is worth watching live — thankfully, SpaceX will be streaming the event for all to see.
What will Falcon Heavy launch to orbit?
The Falcon Heavy launch, given the mission name USSF 44, will take a secretive U.S. Space Force payload to orbit. The mission will carry two satellites into a geosynchronous orbit, which will orbit at the same speed as Earth, allowing them to function over a set region.
The U.S. Space Force has released very little information about the USSF 44 payloads. However, we know one of the satellites is a microsatellite called TETRA 1, built by Millennium Space Systems, a subsidiary of Boeing.
What time is the Falcon Heavy launch?
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launch is scheduled for 9:40 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, November 1. The launch will take place from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. As with all rocket launches, this is subject to change depending on weather conditions and a host of variables up to launch.
The launch isn't the only thing worth watching. It's worth sticking around for a few minutes as, approximately 10 minutes after Falcon Heavy takes to the skies, two of Falcon Heavy's boosters will perform side-by-side automated landings back at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Static fire of Falcon Heavy complete; targeting Tuesday, November 1 for launch of the USSF-44 mission from Launch Complex 39A in Florida— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 28, 2022
SpaceX tweeted an image of Falcon Heavy on the launchpad on Friday, October 28, alongside the caption, "static fire of Falcon Heavy complete; targeting Tuesday, November 1 for the launch of the USSF-44 mission".
How can I watch the Falcon Heavy launch?
SpaceX will live stream the launch from its YouTube channel, and it typically starts coverage an hour or so before the launch takes place. We will also provide live text coverage of the launch on the website, with an embedded link to the video.
Falcon Heavy is made up of three of SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 rockets strapped together and a second stage connected to the central booster that deploys the mission payload in orbit. The central booster will fall into the ocean after launch, while the two side boosters will come down for a dramatic landing.
Falcon Heavy in the hangar at Launch Complex 39A pic.twitter.com/Ul1Ti8e8qH— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 23, 2022
The Falcon Heavy's 27 Merlin engines generate up to 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, making the mammoth launch system the world's most powerful operational rocket. SpaceX is, of course, also working on the fully reusable Starship rocket, which is expected to generate a massive 17 million pounds of thrust thanks to its 33 next-generation Raptor engines.
Until Starship takes to the skies, Falcon Heavy is the world's "most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two," SpaceX says on its website. The three-booster system can lift almost 64 metric tons (141,000 lb) into orbit.
Biomass, which has recently left for final testing before launch in 2024, will be the seventh Earth Explorer programme satellite in orbit.