SpaceX’s Biggest Rocket: See Falcon Heavy’s Mysterious Passenger and Other Launch Facts (+ Live Stream)

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After delays of a few years, the Falcon Heavy rocket will be finally launched on Tuesday, Elon Musk confirmed.

Keep on reading to know the details.

Historic Launch

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed Sunday night the launch of the rocket that was delayed for several times was still on schedule for Tuesday like he had announced a week earlier.

Musk’s space company hopes to launch the rocket, which it calls “the most powerful operational rocket in the world,” from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday at 1:30pm Florida time.

Why is it so special?

Falcon Heavy, if its launch is successful, would be the world’s most powerful rocket in operation. It is essentially three rockets bolted together to make the heavy vehicle.

Only two rockets in history — NASA’s Saturn V and the Soviet-era Russian-built Energia — were more powerful than the SpaceX rocket. And that is part of the reason why the Falcon Heavy is a good candidate for making a successful trip to neighboring Mars.

falcon-heavy-spacex-photo

Source: Elon Musk/Twitter

The aim

SpaceX has big plans for the Falcon Heavy. The mission will try to prove that it is possible to put payloads into an orbit intersecting Mars.

The rocket is designed to carry humans into space—to the moon and one day even to Mars.

Musk has alluded to the Red Planet on social media, sharing a poster of a Martian spaceport on Twitter only this morning.

Will it be another fail?

The company stresses that this is a test launch and there’s a high risk it will fail.

Well, actually: “real good chance that vehicle does not make it to orbit,” Musk said to CNN.

And some industry experts agree with him. Paulo Lozano, a professor of astronautics at MIT, told CNNMoney that the Falcon Heavy presents big challenges because of its design.

“Every time you fire a rocket engine, there is a probability that something might go wrong,” he said.

If the Falcon Heavy explodes too close to the launch pad, the pad will be decimated.

“I hope it makes it far enough away from the [launch] pad so that it does not cause pad damage,” Musk said last year. “I would consider even that a win to be honest.”

If the Falcon Heavy does explode, it won’t be a total loss.

SpaceX will still gather valuable data that it can use to build a better Falcon Heavy. The company won’t even use the word “failure” — because this is just a test.

An explosion will, however, give SpaceX’s critics something to talk about.

“It’s not always technical issues at play here. It’s also politics,” said Lozano, the MIT professor.

Mysterious passenger

Musk published on his Instagram page a photo of his own cherry-red Tesla Roadster, which would, rather appropriately, be playing the late David Bowie’s “Starman” on SpaceX’s rocket.

But there’s one more mystery passenger there – a “driver” seated behind the wheel of the Roadster, which is already in the nose of the Falcon Heavy.

It is unclear whether the dummy, which is wearing the new SpaceX suit in the picture, will be onboard as well.

Starman in Red Roadster

Допис, поширений Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

Mars Awaits

Musk also shared some concept art on his Instagram page showing tourism on Mars, with faux posters — done retro-style — showing famous and picturesque spots on the red planet.

Mars Awaits

Допис, поширений Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

How to watch a Falcon Heavy rocket launch at Florida’s Space Coast?

As always, those who haven’t an opportunity to be at the Kennedy Space Center may watch it online live stream here:

See also:

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SpaceX’s Biggest Rocket: See Falcon Heavy's Mysterious Passenger and Other Launch Facts (+ Live Stream)
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SpaceX’s Biggest Rocket: See Falcon Heavy's Mysterious Passenger and Other Launch Facts (+ Live Stream)
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After delays of a few years, the Falcon Heavy rocket will be finally launched on Tuesday, Elon Musk confirmed.
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