by Abigail Mullen
On Feb. 4, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy for the first time at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. According to SpaceX, the Falcon Heavy is one of the world’s most powerful rockets: it can lift nearly 70.5 tons into orbit. During the rocket’s first test run, its core booster crashed.
What is a core booster? They are part of the first stage boosters of a rocket. The engine in the first stage is ignited when the rocket is launched and is what makes the rocket propel off the ground. Once the fuel is used up, the booster is discarded to lighten the weight of the rocket. The new lighter weight makes the rocket accelerate faster. This allows the rocket to fly into orbit or leave the atmosphere.
Rockets like the Falcon Heavy have multiple stages and multiple boosters within each stage. The first stage has three boosters, all of which were supposed to return to Earth after they were discarded. On the day of the test run, the side boosters returned and landed as planned, but the center core crashed. The crash reportedly occurred because not enough ignition fuel to start the engine on that booster. After fixing this small problem, the next run should be much better.