Elon Musk said earlier this year that Falcon Heavy would make its maiden flight in November. However, November has come and gone and we haven’t heard much from SpaceX with regards to how Falcon Heavy is progressing. Well, Musk decided to break the silence this morning with three images of Falcon Heavy in its near-complete form.
Falcon Heavy at the Cape pic.twitter.com/hizfDVsU7X— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2017
As you can see, the Falcon Heavy makes use of three Falcon 9 cores that are strapped together, three-across. As with Falcon 9 launches, all three boosters can be recovered intact, with each making a controlled, powered landing after completing their mission. Once recovered, the boosters will be refurbished for subsequent flights.
Musk says that the Falcon Heavy's first launch will occur sometime in January from the same pad at Cape Canaveral that the historic Apollo 11 mission took off from in 1969. SpaceX isn't exactly setting the bar high for Falcon Heavy's first launch, with Musk stating earlier this year, “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.”
SpaceX says that the Falcon Heavy is the "World's most powerful rocket", producing an astounding 5 million pounds of thrust at launch thanks to its 27 Merlin engines (nine for each core). The launch system is capable of putting 54 metric tons (119,000 pounds) of cargo into orbit around the Earth. To put that in perspective, SpaceX says that Falcon Heavy’s payload capacity is only surpassed by the Saturn V from the late 1960s.