SpaceX targeting late January for Falcon Heavy debut

Cesar Mills
January 5, 2018

Whatever does happen, the Falcon Heavy launch is sure to make for a thrilling spectacle. Last week, the new rocket hit a big developmental milestone when SpaceX turned it upright for the first time.

SpaceX's mighty Falcon Heavy rocket - which could one day take humans to the moon or Mars - sits at Cape Canaveral, ready for its test launch later this month. However, this month will see the launch of a secretive project that marries tech from both the private and public worlds of space exploration. It's not there just for its pretty looks. The craft is already fitted with one of Tesla's Roadster vehicles and will be aimed squarely at Mars. And according to Musk, the vehicle will be playing David Bowie's "Space Oddity". Approximately 30 seconds before Falcon 9's usual main engine cut-off (MECO) point, Falcon Heavy's twin side boosters will separate from the center core (essentially a complete Falcon 9) with the help of some form of mechanical actuators created to gently push those boosters away from the center.

At a total of 5 million pounds of thrust (22.8 kN), the rocket would be able to lift a fully-fueled 747 passenger jet into low Earth orbit (LEO) in an expendable configuration.

SpaceX has ironed out all the wrinkles with its Falcon 9 launches, but it's about to try something new and potentially insane.

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The mission was first added to SpaceX's manifest in October, with an initial launch slated for mid-November. Most importantly to SpaceX, the cores have been created to safely come back to Earth, where they can be reused for future missions.

Space X claims the Falcon Heavy is the "most powerful rocket in the world by a factor of two".

"The NRO made up its mind that SpaceX was OK to launch payloads", he said. It's only fitting seeing as the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V.

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