While SpaceX is clearly good at delivering satellites to orbit quickly and efficiently, they almost always put on a beautiful show for the locals and thousands of viewers watching online, and this launch was no different.
Launching at 8:26 PM ET, the Falcon Heavy lifted off under dark skies. The rocket ascended back into the sunlight about 3 minutes into the flight, which illuminated the exhaust plume into a beautiful orangeish color. Following the side core booster separation, the center core of the Falcon Heavy continued putting on a show high in the upper atmosphere. The enormous exhaust plume was brilliant white color, almost in the shape of a flower.
One aspect of covering SpaceX launches for Teslarati is capturing the images for each launch. Usually, we will set up the morning before an evening launch or, in some cases, 24 hours before the planned lift-off. For this launch, we first set up our cameras on the morning of April 27th. Even with the threat of severe weather, we all want to capture the insane power of the Falcon Heavy. What came next was a bit unusual for the area with multiple tornado warnings, including one directly over LC-39A, where the rocket and our camera gear were awaiting launch.
After the severe weather on the first launch attempt, we were allowed to check and reset our cameras for the next launch attempt, a few tripods, including one of my own, was knocked over and rained on the entire night resulting in a dead camera. Thankfully my second camera survived and made it through the next few days of storms and it produced a great image of the Falcon Heavy at lift off.
This photo shows a stack of 31 images that were taken by my remote camera. Once the sound reaches a certain limit, the MIOPS trigger will send a signal to the camera to wake up and fire away. The one disadvantage of this is that rain can sometimes hit the sound trigger, causing it to fire prematurely, and during the storms, my camera took around 2500 pictures over a few days. Thankfully, SpaceX allowed us to go out before each attempt to clear the memory cards, put in new batteries, and clean the lenses.