Behind the scenes of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch day prep

02-06 10:02
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Behind the scenes of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch day prep

Posted byDarrell Etherington

SpaceX is launching its Falcon Heavy rocket tomorrow, and if it’s successful, it’ll be twice as powerful in terms of cargo capacity as its next closest active rival. That will help give SpaceX an edge in the growing private space race, and open up new opportunities in terms of potential clients, as well as set the stage for traveling to Mars.

The launch itself is happening on Tuesday, February 6 at 1:30 PM EST, weather permitting. The window lasts until 4 PM EST, however, so if conditions are good within that time the lunch should go off as planned. There’s a backup window on February 7, which also starts at 1:30 PM EST, and we’ll be there live to watch it happen and report back all the news right here on TechCrunch.

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Falcon Heavy with a red Model 3 en route

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy set up at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, with a cherry red Model 3 in the foreground.

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Framing the Falcon Heavy

TechCrunch video producer Veanne Cao frames up the Falcon Heavy at one of our first footage stops.

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Falcon Heavy upright

The full Falcon Heavy rocket from front on, with the logo clearly visible on the top faring.

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Falcon Heavy with scaffolding

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket with the visible support and service scaffolding nearby.

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Falcon Heavy and SpaceX

The SpaceX launch facility near the LC-39A pad from which Falcon Heavy will launch.

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SpaceX Falcon Heavy on LC-39A

This is the Falcon Heavy viewer form the back angle, where it was hauled in on huge heavy sleds.

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Base of Falcon Heavy

The base of the Falcon Heavy from the rear, with the support strut visible.

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SpaceX Falcon Heavy with water tower

The Falcon Heavy with the SpaceX water tower in near proximity.

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Falcon Heavy nose cone

The nose cone of the Falcon Heavy and its outer boosters.

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Falcon Heavy upright

A full view of the Falcon Heavy on the launch support from the rear.

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Falcon Heavy wide shot

The Falcon Heavy, SpaceX water tower and broad view of the launch facility with the changing sky.

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SpaceX grid fins

Side boosters have grid fins for redirecting the Heavy Falcon side boosters back to Earth.

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Top of Falcon Heavy

At the top of Falcon Heavy.

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SpaceX logo at rocket base

The SpaceX name is prominently displayed on the bottom of each of Falcon Heavy’s three boosters.

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Falcon Heavy's concrete launch support

The Falcon Heavy takes off from a concrete bridge of sorts covering over an exhaust escape gap.

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SpaceX Falcon Heavy

Falcon Heavy’s all set up as it catches the afternoon light amid Cape Canaveral’s brackish swampland.

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Floridian Sundogs

This colorful optical phenomenon is called a Sundog, caused under ice crystals in the atmosphere and appearing 22 degrees away from the sun. (At night, they’re Moondogs.)

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Photography is hard

Darrell Etherington taking a photo of the Falcon Heavy at one of the media sites.

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Falcon Heavy base support structure

This is in place to help stabilize the rocket pre-launch, and it will pull back before the rocket takes off.

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VAB and nest

Kennedy Space Center hosts famous and impressive Vehicle Assembly Building, but if you know where to look, you can see signs that it’s all been around for quite a while. I’m not sure whether this next is real or artificial but one thing I do know is there were a LOT of vultures around there.

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Veanne packs it out

Unfortunately we don’t have a cool little house to put our cameras in, so we had to shoot in the limited time we had and then jump back on the bus.

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Let there be lights

These are a few of the huge lights that keep the rocket lit for dramatic effect at night. It looks like they’re crooked but that’s the way they’re mounted.

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Remotes of all stripes

There were tons of remote cameras, which will be set off by (probably) the sound of the launch. You have to protect them from the elements, of course (it was rainy this week on the Florida coast) — but really some of these just have trash bags wrapped in gaff tape for rain jackets.

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Variety

Pros know you have to get lots of different angles for important things like rocket launches. That’s why Matt went one step the right and Darrell went one step to the left.

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Official SpaceX camera

This official camera (if the label is to be trusted) was located at one of the remote camera sites we stopped at. (SpaceX phone number on bottom part of tape clonestamped out.)

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SpaceX's cherry view

This remote camera setup area had two good spots to shoot from, the better of which was already occupied by this shielded SpaceX camera. It was sitting RIGHT on top of a fire ant nest, though.

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NASA VAB at Kennedy

The “Vehicle Assembly Building” or VAB at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is a staging area where rockets area assembled before rolling out to their launch pads.

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标签: SpaceX
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