SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket launched in a dazzling display of pyrotechnics Sunday evening, as it lifted two government ambassadors to space. About eight minutes later, spectators were treated to a double rocket port on two sided boosters behind Cape Canaveral.
Sonic booms crackled overhead as the ports marked the 163rd and 164th successful recovery runs for SpaceX. The core of the rocket was discarded in the ocean due to the fuel requirements necessary to achieve high orbit.
One viewer in particular caught by the incredible detail of the Falcon Heavy’s foot is the carefully choreographed orbital ankle that helps each pin in the rocket’s ports.
SpaceX rockets are made up of four main elements: a first stage, a second (or higher) stage, an intermediate stage that connects to each other, as well as a payload fairing that houses any cargo or satellites the rocket carries.
Two of these components, the first stage and the payload fairing, are reusable and together account for nearly 70 percent of the rocket’s cost, according to SpaceX.
After SpaceX launches a rocket, it goes through a series of steps designed to ensure the payload gets into orbit. But after the first and second stages are separated, the second stage continues with the payload while the first station prepares to return to Earth, where it will either be on land or floating in the ocean.
After it separates the first stage, it starts a course like a ball orbit where it will fly around in mid-air, and its three guns will fire at the part of the user’s boostback, which will be oriented towards the port. This flip process can be seen in detail in the footage from the Astronomy Live launch.
The boostback fire is the first of three landing burns needed to slow the rocket down to avoid a crash landing. Next, the course will deploy the grids made of titanium that are used to help steer the rocket. The craft will then fire the guns again for a shorter period of time on entry, as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere.
The runner is then guided to port with the help of fins before turning on their engines one last time, when it specifically comes to port.
SpaceX has just recovered from the rocks in 2015, when it recovered its first runway at Cape Canaveral.
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