SpaceX Confirms Date for First Falcon Heavy Launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sits on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Tuesday Feb. 23 2016
In this file image from February 2016 a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sits on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
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30 January, 2018

"Aiming for first flight of Falcon Heavy on Feb 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy. Easy viewing from the public causeway", founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted.

In May previous year, SpaceX released a video showing the Falcon Heavy's core engines going through their first static test, an indication of a real possible launch. He wrote: "Falcon Heavy hold-down firing this morning was good".

A SpaceX rocket explosion has destroyed a launch pad before.

But the Falcon Heavy is essentially three Falcon 9s strapped together, and it'll boast about three times the thrust of the Falcon 9. It also has three times more engines. Everybody is ready for the Falcon Heavy launch. He heads up the Tesla electric auto company, as well as SpaceX and several other companies.

That opens up a whole new range of business opportunities for SpaceX, which has been leading a new era of spaceflight in which commercial companies - not just governments - are driving the industry forward. From the sound of it, Musk expects the vehicle to be in orbit around Mars for "millions of years", potentially being discovered at some point in the future by an alien race once our own species has long since died off.

The Falcon Heavy will be minus its featured load for the test. It is likely that the main goal of Falcon Heavy's extended static fire was to ensure that SpaceX had developed a safe and functional method of igniting all 27 engines without damaging itself, a real risk from the torque of each engine's turbopump operating in the same orientation.

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Assuming Falcon Heavy's launch isn't delayed by technical issues, bad weather, or errant boats (debris could rain over the Atlantic Ocean if the rocket blows up), lift-off should occur at 1:30 p.m. ET on February 6, though it could be as late as 4:30 p.m.

In a December tweet, Musk quipped that the Falcon Heavy launch is "guaranteed to be exciting, one way or another".

Falcon Heavy represents SpaceX's entry into the heavy-lift market and, when it launches, will become the most powerful rocket in the world thanks to its 5.1 million pounds of thrust. NASA introduced reusability with its space shuttles in 1981, reflying the orbiters as well as booster segments and main engines until their retirement in 2011. SpaceX Rendering: The two side boosters separating from the center core of Falcon Heavy.

There's a big, big launch coming up on Florida's Space Coast on February 6, courtesy of SpaceX - one of the biggest and brightest launches in recent years.

SpaceX is working on an even bigger rocket that would replace the Falcon line.

The launch timetable is also far from certain. So is United Launch Alliance, a venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, with its next-generation Vulcan.


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