In 2017, SpaceX were incredibly successful in their rocket launches and the company isn’t slowing down. Elon Musk has announced on Twitter that their biggest rocket yet, the Falcon Heavy, is ready to launch in January. Not only will it be the biggest rocket ever launched by SpaceX, but it’ll be the largest launched, ever, by anyone, public or private at more than twice the size of the previous largest, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.
Building on the learnings of the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, Falcon Heavy will use no less than 3 sets of 9-engine cores to generate a ridiculous 5 million pounds (2,267,962 kgs) of thrust at liftoff, or around the same as 18x 747 planes. The Heavy needs that power to carry a payload of around 16,800 kg which is ultimately the runway to take our civilisation to Mars.
The rocket actually has redundancy built-in, with most payload scenarios, allowing it to sustain an unplanned engine shutdown at any point in flight and still successfully complete its mission.
Initially the launch was slated for December 2017, but with Musk’s tweet today (December 2nd), pinning the launch a ‘next month’ means the estimated launch has actually slipped by a month. Given the scale of the task, a month isn’t a big issue and these launches are also heavily weather dependent.
Musk has approval to launch form the Apollo 11 pad at Cape Canaveral. Weirdly Musk seems to think one of those new stupidly fast Tesla Roadsters should be on-board. That aside, the launch is an important one for the company, with the launch manifest, already showing multiple Falcon Heavy launches booked for the future.
For more information, head to spacex.com/falcon-heavy