SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket launched successfully on Tuesday, making history as the world’s most powerful rocket and putting a provierbial feather in Elon Musk’s cap.
Containing 27 engines, the rocket has a thrust able to generate more than 5 million pounds, akin to the equivalent of 18 Boeing 747 aircraft. It will be able to lift a payload of more than 64 tons (141,000 pounds) into orbit, twice as much as the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost, according to SpaceX. The payload the Falcon Heavy is carrying is a Tesla Roadster, codenamed Starman, playing the David Bowie song of the same name.
The flight was originally scheduled for 1:30 pm EST, but was pushed back to 3:45 pm EST due to wind shear. It fired from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX said that when the rocket achieves lift off, “it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two.” The company added that “Falcon Heavy’s side cores are flight-proven-both previously supported independent Falcon 9 missions in 2016.”
SPACEX FALCON HEAVY LAUNCH: WHAT, WHEN AND WHY
The successful launch marks the beginning of a very busy schedule for the space vehicle. Later this year, it is scheduled to launch a communications satellite for a Saudi Arabian satellite operator, Arabsat. It is also scheduled to launch a test payload for the U.S. Air Force as soon as June, allowing the branch of the U.S. military to determine whether the Falcon Heavy is capable of launching national security payloads.
The space vehicle has three first-stage rocket boosters and after it’s launched, SpaceX will attempt to bring all of them back for re-use. SpaceX has done this previously with its Falcon 9 rocket, but that only has one first-stage booster and is a much smaller rocket.
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