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Falcon Heavy: world’s most powerful rocket gets launch date

The Falcon Heavy rocket launch has been long-awaited, but it’s seen numerous delays. In fact, SpaceX initially planned for a first test flight as long ago as 2013.

Now, the rocket, expected to be the most powerful since the Apollo programme’s Saturn V, has received a firm launch date of 6 February. The date comes from SpaceX founder Elon Musk himself, via Twitter.

According to Space Flight Insider, the launch is expected to take place at 1.30pm EST (8.30pm SAST). And if it’s like prior SpaceX launches, we can expect live-streaming via the SpaceX website or its YouTube channel.

The Falcon Heavy is equipped with three rocket boosters for the first stage, totalling 27 engines. Meanwhile, the standard Falcon 9 only has one rocket booster for its first stage, totalling nine engines. The second stage of the Heavy rocket is identical to the Falcon 9.

The Falcon Heavy can lift the equivalent of a fully loaded Boeing 737 to orbit

All this power will be used for SpaceX and NASA’s deep space ambitions — ferrying payloads and/or astronauts to the likes of Mars and the Moon.

In fact, SpaceX claims that the Falcon Heavy is capable of “more than twice the performance” of the Delta IV Heavy rocket, the current heavy lift rocket king. Or to put it another way, the Falcon Heavy can lift the equivalent of a fully loaded Boeing 737 into orbit, the company claims.

Test flights usually carry a dummy payload, but Musk has decided to loft his personal Tesla car aboard the Falcon Heavy.

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

Featured image: Elon Musk via Twitter

Author | Hadlee Simons

Hadlee Simons
Terrible puns make Hadlee Simons difficult to work with, but he brings over seven years of tech journalism experience to the table. When he's not at work or watching motorsport, he's in the foetal position on a jiu jitsu mat. More

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