Falcon Heavy rocket ready for fueling, static fire test

Randal Sanchez
January 25, 2018

There has been no shortage of news about the Falcon Heavy rocket by SpaceX.

The test fire, completed at the SpaceX Cape Canaveral launch facility from which Falcon Heavy will make its first voyage, occurred early Wednesday afternoon, and SpaceX signalled following the test that all went well.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk said an hour later that the firing was good.

As for the roadster payload, many initial launch tests boost dead weight in the form of concrete ballast, but ever the iconoclast, Musk decided a vehicle would be fun.

Meaning that after seven long years of anticipation, secrecy, and delays over the past few weeks due to weather and the government shutdown, this rocket is not only alive, but may launch in a matter of weeks.

SpaceX tweeted its own video of the test, but it is very brief and does not include the impact of the sound wave evident in the Seemangal tweet. Instead, Musk will launch a Tesla Roadster playing David Bowie's "Space Oddity" into "a billion year elliptic Mars orbit". The SpaceX website lists the payload capability as 63,800 kilograms (140,600 pounds) to low Earth orbit (LEO); 26,700 kg (58,860 lbs) to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO); 16,800 kg (37,040 lb) to Mars; or 3,500 kg (7, 720 lb) to Pluto. After it reaches its destination, the vehicle would travel around the sun in endless ellipses that extended as far out as Mars' orbit.

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Two of the three Heavy boosters have launched before.

There is a question as to how many big ("heavy") rockets are needed to meet expected demand. No rocket with three cores and so many engines has successfully launched from Earth before. For SpaceX, the megarocket could help the company compete in new markets like the launching of large spy satellites for the US government.

Some space advocates think Falcon Heavy could offer a quicker, cheaper path for NASA to send astronauts back to the moon.

The mission marks SpaceX's most ambitious project to date. Apparently, the companies need to hold third party liability insurance in order for the FAA to grant them a commercial launch license but, since no one was harmed and no third party property damaged, they won't pay out.

In a Washington, D.C., speech last July the Tesla founder which said Falcon Heavy is one of the most hard and technically complex projects SpaceX has ever undertaken. He said last July that there's "a real good chance that that vehicle does not make it to orbit". SpaceX now has a Falcon 9 launch from nearby Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station scheduled for January 30, suggesting a launch attempt will take place after that.

"Will have double thrust of next largest rocket".

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