SpaceX has announced the inaugural launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket system, scheduled for February 6.
The reusable Falcon Heavy launch vehicle uses three smaller Falcon 9 rockets fastened together, making it the most powerful operational rocket in the world when it lifts off from Apollo Launchpad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX has designed the Falcon Heavy to one-day carry a human crew into space.
The Falcon Heavy’s first payload will be SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s own red Tesla sports car. He posted on Instagram late last year that, “The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing [David Bowie’s 1969 song] Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit.”
“To understand why the Falcon Heavy is a big deal, we have to look back at what’s been happening in space over the last few decades,” said Seedhouse, an assistant professor of applied aviation sciences in the Spaceflight Operations degree program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “Since Apollo 17 in 1972, there have been no flights beyond low Earth orbit. So the question over the last 45 years has been how do we get back to being space explorers? That is why the Falcon Heavy is important, especially as a stepping-stone towards an even bigger rocket.”