SpaceX's New Rocket Ready for First Flight


SpaceX is ready to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center, and Elon says he feels, "quite giddy and hopeful" about the flight. Falcon Heavy will blast-off from launch pad LC-39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Musk has played down expectations, joking that he'll be pleased if it just blows up clear of the launch pad. It is the most powerful USA rocket since NASA's Saturn V. The booster is essentially three Falcon 9 rockets in one, and liftoff will happen as 27 Merlin engines fire in unison. Not only can the Falcon Heavy-essentially three Falcon 9 first stages strapped together-lift more payload than any rocket since the Saturn V, it sells for just $90 million a launch, far less than its competition.

The Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space with aim of enabling crewed missions to the moon or Mars, although SpaceX may have changed its mind about carrying people.

In the case of Heavy's maiden voyage, Musk has used a cherry red Tesla Roadster as the payload - complete with a dummy named Starman.

In anticipation of a successful launch, SpaceX released an animation set to Bowie's "Life on Mars" showing the launch, booster separation and return and the Roadster's entry into Mars orbit.

In a tweet last month, Musk said he loves the thought of a vehicle driving - apparently endlessly through space and, perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future.

How powerful is the rocket?

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Falcon Heavy conducted its first static test fire at Kennedy Space Center. The launch will be broadcast live on SpaceX's website.

"It really creates a great sense of possibility if this mission is successful", Musk said.

Musk was asked whether SpaceX can increase the Falcon Heavy's performance over time, much like it has with the Falcon 9.

The Independent reported that weather was the most common problem when it comes to rocket launches, however weather conditions are now looking good, with forecasts giving an 80 percent chance that all will go well.

Compare that to United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy, which can lift 62,540 lbs. But Musk wrote on Instagram Monday that SpaceX will likely use its still-in-development "Big F***ing Rocket" for moon missions instead.

The Elon Musk owned space company pulled off a rather remarkable launch of a government satellite from the Cape on 31 January where a rocket booster that was supposed to simply fall into the sea and break apart, survived. Musk certainly grabbed the media's attention, now all he needs if a faultless launch later today. Two of the boosters- recycled from previous Falcon 9 launches - returned minutes later for simultaneous, side-by-side touchdowns at Cape Canaveral. There are many unknowns when it comes to tomorrow's scheduled launch; but one thing that Musk promises is that it'll be exciting: "It's either going to be an exciting success or an exciting failure - one big boom". SpaceX has already wowed many crowds by performing the seemingly impossible trick of landing a huge cylindrical rocket back on the launch pad from space, and this time the visuals should be even better. While Falcon 1 was completely on the SpaceX tab, Falcon 9 benefited from the company's contracts with NASA for space station shipments.