Elon Musk just announced that SpaceX might be about to launch the biggest rocket ever built, and if it all comes out as planned, the Falcon Heavy – as it has been called – might be headed to space in just three months.
Definitely, Elon Musk keeps surprising people around the world. The Falcon Heavy will be a 230-foot-tall rocket that combines the power of three smaller Falcon 9 rockets. In Twitter, Musk published the due date for the launch of this super rocket.
“All Falcon Heavy cores should be at the Cape in two to three months, so launch should happen a month after that,” he tweeted.
Will SpaceX meet the date set by Musk for the launch?
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy might become the biggest rocket to get to space in history. It has the power of 27 engines that can produce more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. That would be enough energy to put a fully loaded 737 jet into orbit. The Falcon Heavy could also be sending a small spaceship and two passengers to space.
This all seems great, but skepticism is also surrounding the ambitious project. A lot of people think that SpaceX won’t be able to stick to the launching’s due date since Musk is not exactly diligent when it comes to meeting deadlines. He might be minimizing the difficulty to achieve the things he proposes.
The Falcon Heavy: Refurbished and reused
The Falcon Heavy’s first launch date was set in March 2017, but it had to be postponed due to an explosion on a Launchpad back in September 2016.
Parts of this incredibly big rocket are being reused. It will be powered with two already launched Falcon 9 boosters. After the launch, this two side rockets will separate from the Falcon Heavy and will land at Cape Canaveral, Florida so that they could be refurbished and reused for a third launch.
While that happens, the central core of the big rocket will keep on flying, and then it will peel off from an upper stage rocket that will enter into orbit. This core will find its way back to Earth, falling in the Atlantic Ocean on a drone ship so it can be later reused for another launch.
This is another revolutionary way of proceeding in the space industry since most rockets are never reused. They usually fall into the Earth as garbage after they accomplished their sole purpose. Musk has already said he wants to put an end to these expensive procedures by reusing parts of the rockets over and over again. That way he helps to reduce the costs of launching into space. Nonetheless, he has also confessed that his purposes are a little too ambitious.
“We will probably fly something really silly on Falcon Heavy because it is quite a high-risk mission,” Musk said in March after the successful launch of the SES-10 mission, which was the first to reuse a Falcon 9 booster.
SpaceX is getting back on track after difficult years
Though it is impossible to know right now whether SpaceX will actually launch the Falcon Heavy when Musk said it would, there certainly still is a positive light in all of this. SpaceX is trying to make progress by putting a deadline for a project that has already faced a lot of challenges since last year. The truth is that 2015 and 2016 were rough for the space company after two controversial accidents with its Falcon 9 rocket.
2017 could be a great year for SpaceX due to great projects, including the launch of the Falcon Heavy. In March, the company launched the SES-10 communications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. They send a 5-ton payload to a height of 36000 kilometers above planet Earth, and it managed to return without problems. Musk felt it was a success since SpaceX could prove to the aerospace industry that amazing things can be done with reusable rocketry.
“So it has been 15 years to get to this point, it took us a long time,” Musk said at the time. “A lot of difficult steps along the way. This is going to be ultimately a huge revolution in spaceflight” he added.
The company is looking forward to launching its Dragon Spacecraft and that it can be reused to come and go to take supplies to the International Space Station. The first Dragon was launched to the ISS in September 2014. The company said it is thinking to make supply missions on used boosters in the future.
Another big project is the launch of the Dragon 2.0 spacecraft this year. The company estimates it can be done in November for its unscrew demonstration flight. Its objective is to carry astronauts to the ISS.
Though Musk wants to start launching commercial flights to the moon, it might not be possible until 2019.
Source: Yahoo! Finance