Falcon Heavy Boosters Made a Triple Sonic Boom When They Landed

Wednesday, 07 February 2018 - 7:48PM
Technology
SpaceX
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 - 7:48PM
Falcon Heavy Boosters Made a Triple Sonic Boom When They Landed
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SpaceX
SpaceX made history yesterday with the launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket, with their flashiest achievement being the fact that it successfully fired Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster into space.

But that was far from the Falcon Heavy's only achievement, and it certainly wasn't their loudest. After the Falcon Heavy successfully flew into the sky, it detached its twin boosters, and instead of simply letting them crash into the ocean somewhere, SpaceX managed to land both boosters safely and nearly simultaneously.  

That landing was an impressive and extremely loud one, because each booster made three sonic booms as they landed for a total of six sonic booms overall. Here's the landing filmed from one angle, and this might be obvious, but we'll warn you anyways: don't turn up the volume too loud, because the enormous sonic booms start about 30 seconds in:



And here's the same booster landing from further away. The booms are still very much audible, but you can hear the delay as the sound doesn't reach the camera until after the boosters have already landed:





John Taylor, the communications director at SpaceX, had previously explained to SpaceFlight Insider what makes the Falcon 9 rocket create a triple sonic boom, and the same principles apply to the Falcon Heavy boosters:

Opening quote
"[The] first boom is from the aft end (engines). [The] second boom is from the landing legs at the widest point going up the side of the rocket. [The] third boom is from the fins near the forward end."
Closing quote


It was fortunate that so many residents around Cape Canaveral are either used to this sort of thing, or followed the news and was aware that Elon Musk was about to make noise. Three sonic booms at once can be a startling thing even if you are aware of them, and much worse if you aren't.

And since there's a good chance the Falcon Heavy will be making a lot more voyages in the future, either to the International Space Station or perhaps even to the Moon or to Mars (if Musk succeeds in getting there within the next decade), this sort of explosion will take some getting used to.

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