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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.
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
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.
Featured image: Elon Musk via Twitter