SpaceX is test launching its Falcon Heavy rocket, the first ever launch of the new heavy-lift orbital rocket. The Heavy’s thrust is generated by its 27 Merlin engines, which is three times the number of engines you’d find in the current Falcon 9 rocket.
If SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launch on Tuesday is successful, Elon Musk thinks the success will blow away the competition for launching heavy loads into space. "If we are successful in this, it is game over for all the other heavy lift rockets," Musk said on a press call Monday evening.
In case you haven’t heard, there’s an original Tesla Roadster sitting atop the Falcon Heavy. As long as the rocket doesn’t explode, the Roadster will be sent on a wide orbit around Mars. " get about 400 million km away from Earth, and it'll be doing 11km/s," he told reporters in a briefing on Monday. "We estimate it will be in that orbit for several hundred million years, maybe in excess of a billion years." Three cameras attached to the car would provide "epic views", Mr Musk added.
If SpaceX wanted to make Falcon Heavy even more powerful, Musk said the company could bring up the power pretty close to the Saturn V, the most powerful rocket in history. "We could dial it up to as much performance as anyone could ever want, we could add two more side boosters, make it Falcon Super Heavy, get upwards of 9 million pounds of thrust," Musk said on the press call.
The launch is set for 1:30 PM EST (10:30 AM PST), with a window that spans two and a half hours and closes at 4 PM EST. There’s a backup window set for the same time on February 7, should they have to scrub for any reason. The live stream above will begin around 15 minutes prior to launch, or around 1:15 PM EST.