Published: Fri, January 05, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

SpaceX says that Falcon Heavy will debut at January end

SpaceX says that Falcon Heavy will debut at January end

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch that was expected to happen Friday night has been pushed back to Sunday night.

The long-delayed inaugural launch of the Falcon Heavy - the company said in April 2011 that the vehicle would be ready for a first launch in 2013 - is a demonstration mission without a paying customer.

These photos offer the first glimpses of the complete, integrated Falcon Heavy, now with Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster payload and second stage attached to the massive rocket. This is the same facility that NASA used to launch all the Saturn V Apollo rockets. SpaceX says, "Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars". He posted a video on Instagram featuring the rocket and wrote that there will be a static-fire test on the launch pad next week.

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It will be returned to the launch pad within next week before the fire test, and then the engines will be ignited.

You can also see the structural components holding the trio of boosters together in the new video. Approximately 30 seconds before Falcon 9's usual main engine cut-off (MECO) point, Falcon Heavy's twin side boosters will separate from the center core (essentially a complete Falcon 9) with the help of some form of mechanical actuators created to gently push those boosters away from the center.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Zuma payload is set to launch no earlier than Saturday, January 6, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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Last month, Musk unveiled the 2017 Tesla Roadster, billed as the fastest production auto ever made. That failure put the program on halt for almost 3 months but in the coming year China is looking at as many as 40 launches, with the pièce de résistance being an attempt at a landing on the Moon in May or June.

'Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks, ' Musk said. He's said the vehicle will be in a "billion-year elliptic Mars orbit", but that probably does not mean it will actually orbit Mars. What SpaceX is probably planning is an Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun, sometimes called a Hohmann transfer orbit.

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