When Falcon Heavy's 27 Merlin engines finally ignite, it will become the most powerful rocket in the world thanks to its 5.1 million pounds of thrust. Only the Apollo era's Saturn V and the space shuttle eclipsed that output
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SpaceX founder Elon Musk unveiled a tantalizing first glimpse at his company's new mega-rocket — the Falcon Heavy — which is expected to launch on its maiden flight this month. In an early morning Twitter post, Musk revealed several views of the new rocket under assembly inside SpaceX's hangar at Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The images show stunning views of the Falcon Heavy from above and one imposing shot of the rocket's 27 first-stage engines, nine on each of its three main boosters.

The Falcon Heavy is a heavy-lift launch vehicle powered by two first-stage boosters from the company's Falcon 9 rockets and a central core booster that itself is a modified Falcon 9. The rocket will stand 230 feet (70 meters) tall when complete and is designed to launch payloads of up to 119,000 lbs. (57 metric tons) into space. It is the most powerful U.S. rocket since NASA's Saturn V moon rocket and is capable of launching twice as much payload as the current record-holder, the Delta IV Heavy built by United Launch Alliance. SpaceX's rocket is also designed to be reusable, with the three core boosters built to fly back to Earth and land like SpaceX's current Falcon 9 rockets.

Pad 39A, which once played host to Apollo and space shuttle missions, is expected to see the three-core vehicle lift off on a premiere flight that will test one of the company's most technically challenging undertakings to date. But before that, a brief test firing of the rocket's 27 engines is expected sometime next week.

Falcon Heavy on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral  /  image by SpaceX  /  source SpaceX

Launching from same NASA pad as the Saturn V Apollo 11 moon rocket. It was 50% higher thrust with five F-1 engines at 7.5M lb-F. I love that rocket so much. Max thrust at lift-off is 5.1 million pounds or 2300 metric tons. First mission will run at 92%. If things go perfectly, all three rocket booster cores will come back and land. Sides back at the Cape, center on the droneship.

The company test-fired the Falcon Heavy's core stage for the first time earlier this year, in May.

The 27 engines of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket  /  image by Elon Musk  /  source Twitter.com

When Falcon Heavy lifts off in 2018, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy rocket, a massive heavy-lift launch vehicle, is seen during assembly ahead of its first test flight from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Falcon Heavy at Cape Canaveral  /  image by Elon Musk  /  source Twitter.com

When Falcon Heavy lifts off in 2018, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy rocket, a massive heavy-lift launch vehicle, is seen during assembly ahead of its first test flight from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Falcon Heavy at Cape Canaveral  /  image by Elon Musk  /  source Twitter.com

When Falcon Heavy lifts off in 2018, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy rocket, a massive heavy-lift launch vehicle, is seen during assembly ahead of its first test flight from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Falcon Heavy demo mission  /  image by SpaceX  /  source Flickr.com  /  license CC0

With the 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, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9.

Musk has said that Falcon Heavy's first payload will be his own midnight-cherry-red Tesla Roadster, launched on a trajectory aimed for Mars orbit. However, Musk has said that there's a fair chance the rocket could fail on its debut test flight. The Falcon Heavy is expected to perform its first static-fire test on Pad 39A by the end of 2017, SpaceX representatives have said.

The Tesla roadster inside the payload of the Falcon Heavy  /  image by Elon Musk  /  source Twitter.com

Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.

The Tesla roadster inside the payload of the Falcon Heavy  /  image by Elon Musk  /  source Twitter.com

Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.

SpaceX also plans to use a Falcon Heavy and Dragon space capsule to launch two passengers around the moon by the end of 2018. The two private citizens, who have not yet been named, approached SpaceX about taking a trip around the moon, and have "already paid a significant deposit" for the cost of the mission, according to a statement from the company. The names of the two individuals will be announced later, pending the result of initial health tests to ensure their fitness for the mission.

Capable of transporting satellites to orbit  /  image by SpaceX  /  source Twitter.com

Crew and cargo to the space station and completing missions to the Moon and Mars.

Capable of transporting satellites to orbit  /  image by SpaceX  /  source Twitter.com

Crew and cargo to the space station and completing missions to the Moon and Mars.

Capable of transporting satellites to orbit  /  image by SpaceX  /  source Twitter.com

Crew and cargo to the space station and completing missions to the Moon and Mars.

Capable of transporting satellites to orbit  /  image by SpaceX  /  source Twitter.com

Crew and cargo to the space station and completing missions to the Moon and Mars.

On July 19, 2017, SpaceX founder Elon Musk was interviewed at the ISS R&D Conference in Washington, DC. Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk speaks at ISS 2017 Conference on the future of Space Progress and Travels to Mars. Elon Musk's speech is related to SpaceX's collaboration with NASA and other organizations to create Falcon 9. This is the full - semi edited - version of Elon Musk's speech at ISS 2017 Conference on July 19, 2017:

Source and references

  1. SpaceX.com - Falcon Heavy
  2. Space.com by Tariq Malik - Elon Musk Unveils Falcon Heavy Rocket Photos Ahead of Maiden Flight
  3. USAToday.com by Emre Kelly - Elon Musk: SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launch will be before end of January
  4. CNet.com by Eric Mack - See the huge rocket set to launch Elon Musk's Tesla to Mars
  5. DailyMail.co.uk by Harry Pettit - Elon Musk's SpaceX will launch 'the world's most powerful rocket' this month: Falcon Heavy to blast off with the billionaire's Tesla Roadster onboard on a mission to Mars
  6. DigitalTrends.com by Patrick Daniels - Everything you need to know about the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket
  7. CNN.com by Jackie Wattles - Elon Musk tweets photos of SpaceX's gargantuan new rocket
  8. CNN.com by Jethro Mullen - Elon Musk will send his Tesla Roadster to Mars on a giant rocket
  9. TheVerge.com by Loren Grush - Is Elon Musk even allowed to send his car to deep space?
  10. TheVerge.com by Loren Grush - NASA is losing the race to build a better rocket
  11. UniverseToday.com by Matt Williams - Falcon Heavy VS. Saturn V
  12. Flickr.com - Official SpaceX Photos
  13. Twitter.com - SpaceX
  14. Twitter.com - Elon Musk
  15. Wikipedia.org - Falcon Heavy
  16. YouTube.com by SpaceX - Falcon Heavy Rocket
  17. YouTube.com by SpaceX - Elon Musk, ISS R&D Conference, July 19, 2017

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Last updated 11 months ago on January 08, 2018 at 1:09 PM PST

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