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Launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket was a great success

A Falcon 9 SpaceX heavy rocket lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The Falcon Heavy, has three first-stage boosters, strapped together with 27 engines in all. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

The recent launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket has a lot of people believing in the future of the American space program.

Thousands of space fans got to witness the launch of the most powerful rocket since the mighty Apollo Saturn V rockets of the past.

With some 5 million pounds of thrust, the 250-foot, massive machine lurched off the launch pad and finally reached low Earth orbit.

The first launch came after a successful static engine test, which occurred back on Jan. 24, when engineers fired up the three main rocket cores made up of 27 Merlin engines.

The total thrust of the Falcon Heavy is estimated to be more than 5 million pounds. This is approximately the full power of eighteen 747 jet aircraft.

The ability to lift heavy platforms into space is one of the key goals of the Falcon Heavy rocket system.

At full power, the rocket can lift the equivalent of the weight of a full 737 jet aircraft — with a full passenger load.

Only the Apollo Saturn V had a greater launch thrust, with some 7,891,000 pounds of effective thrust, and stood nearly 365 feet tall.

There were 13 launches of the Saturn V rocket and it was the key to getting Americans to the moon.

Related: Strange, rocket-like object shows up in Phoenix skies

While the Falcon Heavy is not quite as powerful at the Saturn V, it has state-of-the-art technology applied, which enables the booster rockets to return to Earth and make a soft landing on the ground. This is quite amazing and appears to be the stuff of science fiction.

The Falcon Heavy depends on 27 rocket motors, which generate some 190,000 pounds of thrust each. The Saturn V rocket relied on a main cluster of five Rocketdyne F1 engines, which each developed 1,522,000 pounds of thrust.

The main fuel in both of these rocket engines is a specific rocket fuel, known in the industry as RP-1. This is a very refined type of kerosene propellant. The other portion of the fuel is liquid oxygen.

In summary, the launch was considered a success. The center core rocket broke apart when it hit the ocean, but the two outer booster rockets landed softly on the ground.

The next launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket may come as soon as three to six months, as new center cores have to be fabricated and tested before launch.

The next big plans for Space X and Elon Musk will come soon too, as there is a plan to send two astronauts on an Apollo 8-type mission to orbit the moon and return to Earth.

The astronauts would be private space tourists who would pay for the journey and be placed aboard the new Dragon 2 capsule for this incredible lunar mission. Some say that it could occur near or around the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, which occurred back in December 1968.

For now, the Falcon Heavy rocket has done well and is all about big-time power to propel big-time payloads into space and on to the moon and Mars.

Good luck Elon!

Here is your very own February 2018 sky map to help locate many of the objects in our Arizona skies.

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