Apart from the announcement that the center core failed to return correctly, it appeared from media coverage that the flight went exactly according to plan, but there is always the potential for glitches that can affect the flight even if not obvious to a "bystander".

Did anything else about the Falcon Heavy test flight not perform as planned besides the center core restart/re-entry/recovery? As I understand it, the launch could proceed successfully with less than all engines running. Did all 27 engines of the 3 cores start and run nominally for the full duration of their planned ascent burns?


As I understand it, not everything went as hoped for all of the "recoverables", and there was some variance in Starman's final trajectory (a bit farther out than expected), but I'm wondering if anything went off-nominal for anything related to the payload ascent that would affect confidence in future payload delivery.

  • $\begingroup$ They did not mention anything abnormal in the press conference, besides the center core. Musk was asked about the pad, and the pad is in good condition and can be re-used immediately, the side boosters landed successfully (which was important because of the expensive ti gridfins). Starman sends the video stream and the upper stage has performed better then expected and the tesla is en route through the asteroid belt, almost to the height of ceres. Its hard to prove a negative, though. $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


Probably one minor thing - the flight profile image tweeted by Musk on launch day included fairing recovery, and then nothing was mentioned about it in the launch webcast.

When asked about it during the press conference, Musk said that it had proven surprisingly difficult; the parachute systems kept having a hard time with the airflow around the big awkward fairing halves. He was pretty sure they would manage fairing recovery in the next 6 months. So, implicitly, it failed this time.

He then said that there was a fairing version 2 in the works and that he thought it important to recover it, having built a special boat for the purpose.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I was hoping to keep focus on the ascent phase of the test - those things that would affect confidence in the vehicle to reliably deliver a payload. While it matters to the economics for SpaceX, I wouldn't expect demonstrations of recoverability to matter to potential launch customers. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 21:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Was it really a press kit image? I thought Musk tweeted an image created by a member of NSF forum, unofficial and just guessing about the fairing? $\endgroup$
    – jkavalik
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ No, you're right, I got that wrong. I were reading them at the same time, and must have though an image tweeted by Musk, bearing the SpaceX logo, was official. Edited. $\endgroup$
    – SkyRate
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ I always thought the press kit was the nominal Falcon Heavy path, including fairing recovery, although they hadn't really attempted it yet. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 0:32

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