Eager space fans have watched closely as the rocket went vertical on the launch pad on December 27, and as the first big test fire of its engines filled the sky with steam clouds on Wednesday. On January 24, the company ignited all 27 engines for the first time in a static fire test, burning the rocket engines for about 12 seconds while the rocket was held in place on the pad.
And, in what promises to be a stunning spectacle, SpaceX says it will attempt to guide all three of the Falcon Heavy's first-stage boosters back to Earth after launch. The rocket was fixed down and its engines fired up for the test. Per CNN Money, the only more powerful rocket developed by humans was NASA's Saturn V model, which was retired in the 1970s and was capable of lifting roughly two and a half times as much mass as its new competitor - though the Falcon Heavy's three first-stage boosters are created to be reusable, which is arguably a much more impressive technical achievement. It has also been in development for quite some time now. Everybody is ready for the Falcon Heavy launch. The Heavy is intended for super-big satellites, as well as cargo destined for points far beyond, like Mars. He heads up the Tesla electric vehicle company, as well as SpaceX and several other companies. "There's a lot that could go wrong there", Musk said. He laid out the jaw-dropping plan in a series of tweets earlier this month.
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.
"I love the thought of a auto drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future", Musk wrote.
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Wednesday's firing test shouldn't be taken as a surefire sign of success for the Falcon Heavy. 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.
After years and years of work, SpaceX how has an official launch date for the rocket. It's guaranteed to be exciting.
The 70m-tall Falcon Heavy is created to put up to a maximum of 64 tonnes in low-Earth orbit, although in reality it will be rare that the vehicle lofts this much mass. Still, Falcon Heavy's LC-39A launch pad has previously supported launches of the Space Shuttle and Saturn V, both of which were considerably more powerful than SpaceX's heavy-lift rocket. Two of the Heavy's three first-stage boosters have flown before.
Or, for VIP treatment, buy a launch viewing ticket at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex.