SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket Maiden Launch Set For February 6 With Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster Onboard
The first launch of Falcon Heavy has been in the works for years. SpaceX had originally hoped to get the heavy-lift vehicle off the ground in 2013, which was then later pushed to 2014. And now here we are in 2018 with the first flight less than two weeks away.
Aiming for first flight of Falcon Heavy on Feb 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy. Easy viewing from the public causeway.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 27, 2018
This past Wednesday, SpaceX completed a successful static fire test of Falcon Heavy, paving the way for the early February launch. After testing was completed, Musk stated that "hold-down firing this morning was good", while SpaceX's official Twitter account tweeted, "First static fire test of Falcon Heavy complete—one step closer to first test flight!"
Falcon Heavy can put up to a 140,660-pound payload into low-earth orbit, 58,860 pounds into a geostationary transfer orbit, or send 37,040 pounds of cargo to Mars. For comparison, the retired [and reusable] Space Shuttle was "only" capable of carrying 53,790 pounds of cargo into low-earth orbit.
First static fire test of Falcon Heavy complete—one step closer to first test flight! pic.twitter.com/EZF4JOT8e4— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 24, 2018
Falcon Heavy, like the Falcon 9, will also be a reusable vehicle. The three boosters are all capable of separately making a powered landing on terra firma after sending its cargo into earth’s orbit, or outer space. We don’t know if this capability will be on display for the Falcon Heavy’s first flight, but SpaceX already has the whole booster landing procedure nailed down at this point in time.
You might be wonder what "prized" cargo will be aboard Falcon Heavy for its inaugural launch, and quite interestingly, it will be Musk's own personal first-generation Tesla Roadster. Musk isn't very confident that the first flight will be a success, as he stated at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in July 2017 that there will be a “lot of risk associated with Falcon Heavy."
He went on to add that “there’s a lot that could go wrong there" and that there is a “real good chance that that vehicle does not make it to orbit. I want to make sure to set expectations accordingly.
"I hope it makes it far enough away from the pad that it does not cause pad damage – I would consider even that a win, to be honest.”