A successful tethered test-fire of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket at NASA’s historic launch pad 39A last week marked a great start for the commercial space company’s most powerful rocket to date. Now, the Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight is the next thing on the agenda.
Image Credit: SpaceX
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been teasing a “near-future” Falcon Heavy launch for a while now, but as of this weekend, we finally have an official launch date to mark on our calendars.
Musk Tweeted Saturday evening that the Falcon Heavy would take off from Cape Kennedy’s launch pad 39A on Saturday, February 6th. Notably, Musk excluded an exact timeframe from his public announcement, so this variable remains unknown.
On the outside, the Falcon Heavy looks just like three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, but looks can be deceiving. The Falcon Heavy is instead an entirely new class of rocket that promises to open doors to a new age of space exploration.
The Falcon Heavy’s 27 Merlin engines sport enough thrust to lift 119,000 pounds from Earth’s surface up into space, and this makes the heavy-lifter ideal for both sending large payloads into space and conducting long-distance trips.
Given the growing interest of building a lunar-orbiting space station and the common goal of sending human explorers on Mars for the first time in history, the Falcon Heavy might serve as the ideal solution.
That aside, the Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight won’t be so adventurous. SpaceX plans to throttle the rocket’s engine performance to just 92% to monitor slight performance more reliably. On the other hand, Musk will make things interesting by sending some rather unusual cargo into outer space: a Tesla Roadster electric car.
It should be interesting to see how the launch turns out. After all, even Elon Musk admits that there’s plenty of room for failure.
Source: SpaceX via Elon Musk