SpaceX will launch the Falcon Heavy rocket Tuesday, February 6 at 1:30 pm ET—10:30 a.m. PT. If all goes well with the launch, SpaceX would have successfully blown its rivals out of the heavy lift launch competition, said the space company’s CEO, Elon Musk.
“If we are successful in [launching the Falcon Heavy] it is game over for all the other heavy lift rockets.”
The Significance Of The Falcon Heavy’s First Successful Launch
SpaceX appears to be the only space company in the market that recycles its boosters, effectively decreasing the cost of sending satellites, cargo, or even people into geostationary orbit, reported Business Insider.
The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket SpaceX has built so far. Only Apollo 11’s Saturn V rocket beats out the Falcon Heavy’s power.
Other companies, like Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin or Russia’s Proton, are only in the preliminary stages with rockets with reusable boosters. SpaceX is the only launch system that is already testing a rocket certified for heavy loads— and theoretically passengers.
The Falcon Heavy will be carrying Musk’s pre-owned red Tesla Roadster as its payload. In classic Elon Musk fashion, a mannequin was placed in the vehicle’s front seat dressed in a spacesuit.
The Falcon Heavy’s lone passenger was dubbed Starman based on David Bowie’s single. Probably not coincidentally, Musk plans to play “Space Oddity” by Bowie during lift off as well.
The Falcon Heavy Is Pure Power
Bloomberg described the Falcon Heavy as three SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets placed together, two of which are recycled cores. The third Falcon 9 rocket that makes up SpaceX’s immense structure is modified and most likely optimized for this mission.
There are boosters attached to each Falcon 9 rocket, all of which were refurbished and recycled from past launches.
The Falcon Heavy rocket stands 230 feet tall. It was built with 27 Merlin engines and a 5 million pound liftoff thrust. GeekWire compared SpaceX’s most powerful rocket to a Boeing 737 as it can carry up to 141,000 pounds.
The Future Of The Falcon Heavy And SpaceX
Tuesday’s launch will be the first of five scheduled launches for the Falcon Heavy. One of its next missions will be for the U.S. Air Force’s STP-2 test program. During that launch, the Falcon Heavy will be carrying solar-sailing technology known as the Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 spacecraft. The Falcon Heavy will also be used to carry satellites into orbit by Arabsat, Viasat, and Inmarsat.
The next stage for SpaceX, if the Falcon Heavy missions are successful would be the Big Falcon Rocket or BFR. The BFR is planned explicitly for passenger flights to the Red Planet. So, tomorrow’s Falcon Heavy launch will reveal how close Elon Musk and SpaceX is to developing the BFR and sending people to Mars.