Elon Musk shared the updated schedule on social media late Thursday, a week after he tempered expectations for the Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight in remarks at an industry conference in Washington.
Attach mechanisms for the Falcon Heavy’s central core ( as seen on a Facebook post) will connect two side-mounted boosters, each based on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket first stage.
The three rockets bolted together will generate 5.1 million pounds of thrust with 27 Merlin 1D main engines, making the Falcon Heavy the most powerful present-day launcher in the world once it flies.
The Falcon Heavy will weigh more than1.4 million kilograms fully loaded with kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants and stand more than 70 meters tall.
If the demo mission gets off the ground successfully this year, two more Falcon Heavy flights are on the books in the first half of 2018. While the inaugural launch will not carry a customer payload, the Falcon Heavy missions next year will deploy satellites for commercial companies and the U.S. military.
First flight was supposed to happen years ago sometime in 2013 or 2014, but its maiden voyage has been continuously pushed back since then. In 2015, the company said the rocket would launch in spring of 2016.
That didn’t happen also and SpaceX eventually pushed the launch to sometime in late 2016. Then in September of last year, one of the company’s rockets exploded on a Florida launch pad, and the Falcon Heavy’s first flight was put on hold yet again.
SpaceX keeps saying the flight will happen this November, and now Musk has set the target month according to the new schedule.
However, even if the Falcon Heavy gets off the ground in November, it may not be a very smooth flight, since engineering the vehicle turned out to be way more challenging than originally plans.
Musk noted that combining three Falcon 9 cores together actually triples the amount of vibrations and acoustics the rocket will experience during launch. Because of that, the company had to restructure the center core to handle the new loads. Plus, SpaceX has only been able to test the three boosters separately up until now.
All details were given by Musk in a conference this month.
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.
Even if the Falcon Heavy mission does take place in November — we hope this finally be the real date — that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll see a successful launch then. The rocket requires 27 orbit-class engines to simultaneously ignite, and that’s not something that’s possible to simulate in a test on the ground
The rocket will take off from NASA’s historic launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, but the company hasn’t decided on the exact date and time yet. It’ll likely announce those details in the next few months, as well as confirm whether it will stream the event online.
Please subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated with details about this project any any other news.