World’s most powerful rocket debut flight
SpaceX is planning to attempt the first launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket around the end of this month. With 27 engines generating five million pounds of thrust at liftoff, the triple-core booster will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle. The long-delayed inaugural launch is a demonstration mission without a paying customer.
In December, the company’s chief executive Elon Musk announced the rocket would carry his own Tesla Roadster sports car on a trajectory that would take it past the planet Mars. The Falcon Heavy will be “the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two,” according to SpaceX.
Before launch, the Falcon Heavy will perform a critical Static Fire test. A staggered start sequence will see all 27 Merlin 1D engines ignited together.
Once the static fire is complete, data will be reviewed to determine whether a second static fire is necessary before proceeding into the launch campaign.
Falcon Heavy will target the end of January for its maiden voyage with January 25 pencilled in as a No Earlier Than (NET) date if the static fire goes perfectly.
Why SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Is Such a Big Deal
When it launches with its initial cargo, its destination will be the orbit of Mars. Eventually, the rocket might be the one to carry humans to the Red Planet as well.
The first stage for the Falcon Heavy essentially involves three Falcon 9 cores strapped together.
The reusable boosters will get it into orbit, then fly back to Earth and land vertically like other Falcon 9s. The second stage will be powered by just one Merlin engine, same as the Falcon 9.
SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.
Advancing the future
SpaceX is flying numerous cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station, for a total of at least 20 flights under the Commercial Resupply Services contract.
In 2016, NASA awarded SpaceX a second version of that contract that will cover a minimum of 6 additional flights from 2019 onward. Dragon was designed from the outset to carry astronauts to space, and as early as 2018, SpaceX will carry crew as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
As one of the world’s fastest-growing provider of launch services, SpaceX has secured over 100 missions to its manifest, representing over $12 billion in contracts. These include commercial satellite launches as well as NASA and other US Government missions.