From start to finish, Sunday’s Falcon Heavy launch delivered spectacular imagery

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2023-01-16

Photo of a Falcon Heavy launch and reentry.

Enlarge / A Falcon Heavy rocket launched about 10 minutes after sunset on Sunday from Florida. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

The Falcon Heavy rocket made its fifth launch in five years on Sunday evening from Florida. However, this was the first launch of the triple-core booster in twilight, and this rare evening light provided some spectacular new insights into the liftoff and return of the rocket.

This post-sunset lighting can be seen in the introductory image above, which showcases reddish hues bouncing off the white cores and upper stage. That color comes from the rocket gaining enough altitude to be in line of sight with the Sun.

Now the second-most powerful rocket in the world after NASA's Space Launch System, the Falcon Heavy always puts on a great show, with its 27 Merlin engines firing at once. It holds the record for the rocket with the most first-stage engines to reach orbit—at least, it will until SpaceX's Starship rocket flies later this year.

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