SpaceX has released the latest images of its Falcon Heavy on Twitter and photo-sharing site Flickr. Falcon Heavy is expected to undergo testing of its 27 rockets at the pad before the end of the month with a full launch planned for several weeks after the testing period. The Falcon Heavy is the world’s most powerful rocket. It is described on the SpaceX website as having the “(T)he ability to lift into orbit over 54 metric tons (119,000 lb)--a mass equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage, and fuel--Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle.”
With more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff—equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft at full power—Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. https://t.co/NneqPRPr46 pic.twitter.com/oswCUreG6i— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 3, 2018
Musk plans to send his own Tesla to space
Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX and Tesla Elon Musk has warned that the Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight may not be successful but plans on sending his own Tesla Roadster up to space if all goes to plan. The eccentric entrepreneur said, "I love the thought of a car drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future.”
The Falcon Heavy is engineered in much the same way as SpaceX's successful Falcon, albeit three times the size. The three stage rocket is completely reusable and SpaceX aims to land each section of the rocket after its launch. Two parts of the rocket will land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and one on the droneship, 'Of Course I Still Love You'.
SpaceX has two autonomous spaceport drone ships that they use as a landing pad for rockets. Twelve of the attempted seventeen landings on the drones have been successful. The drones form an integral part of SpaceX’s mission to reuse rockets in order to reduce the cost of space exploration. The drone ships are named in honor of Sci-Fi author Iain Banks. ‘Just Read the Instructions’ and ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ are two of the sentient, planet-sized Culture starships which first appear in Iain Banks' 'The Player of Games’ book series.
Falcon Heavy already planning manned missions
Once tested and in operation, the Falcon Heavy will be used to launch super-big satellites as well as for cargo and missions to destinations outside of our solar system.
There are already four additional launch dates for Falcon Heavy. After its initial maiden launch, there is a planned mission to send a Saudi Arabian communications satellite into orbit. There are tentative plans for its first crewed mission to also occur this year. The date for the launch has not been set yet. For SpaceX fans, the launch will be able to be viewed from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Bookings for the viewings are able to be made via their website.