SpaceX Falcon Heavy To Make Maiden Launch In November Powered By 27 Merlin Engines

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SpaceX has had a lot of success during the past year with its Falcon 9 rocket launches, and things are starting to seem a bit routine. The company regularly launches payloads into space, returning the Falcon 9 boosters either back on dry land or at sea on autonomous drone ships. The company has even launched previously used rockets and landed them again with success. SpaceX is looking for a new, more formidable challenge, and that will come with Falcon Heavy.

Thanks to CEO Elon Musk, we now have a general timeframe for the first launch of its hulking Falcon Heavy. Musk took to Twitter to confirm that the first launch will take place sometime in November:

Musk has previously given timeframes for Falcon Heavy’s first launch, but the company hasn’t been able to hit any of those targets. However, we’re hoping that Musk is right this time around and that Falcon Heavy will take to the skies before year’s end.

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According to SpaceX, the Falcon Heavy “will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two” when it blasts off in November. It will be able to put up to 119,000 pounds of cargo into orbit, and SpaceX is aiming to undercut its aerospace rivals with regards to cost-per-pound into orbit. Once fully operational, SpaceX will allegedly be able to lift twice as much cargo into orbit than the Delta IV Heavy (its closest competitor) for one-third the cost per launch.

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Falcon Heavy will be a complex beast, with three Falcon 9 cores making up its first stage. Each core has 9 Merlin engines, make for a total of 27. Having that many engines ups the complexity of the design, but should help provide fail-safes in the case of engine failure.

As with the current Falcon 9 cores, Falcon Heavy’s three-cores will all be capable of returning back to Earth to under its own power for recovery on land or at sea.