Some are calling it the most important rocket launching of the millennium and perhaps they are not erroneous. The tumultuous journey of SpaceX started as a remote dream for cost effective techniques of travelling to space in 2002. Fast forward to more than 15 decades, the fledgeling startup is now in the forefront of space exploration and giving neck-to-neck competition to the behemoths in the space industry like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
As great as it sounded on paper, it was not going to be simple to undertake this project.
17 years after, the day has finally came when a radical rocket is going to be put into the test and perhaps bring Musk’s ambition of inter-planetary traveling closer to reality.
The Falcon Heavy was initially intended for a launch way back in 2011, but due to several logistical and technical problems, the launch plans were delayed innumerable times. Until today, the Falcon Heavy has finished a effective static fire test in the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in January. The prosperous static evaluation fire on the Falcon Heavy watched all of its motors fired up for 12 minutes.
Certainly, the Falcon Heavy is no rocket. It’s basically made up of three Falcon 9rockets strapped together to provide one super-rocket with unbelievable thrust force. The rocket uses a total of 27 Merlin engines to create a thrust of more than 5 million lbs. Just to put some perspective on this, that is sufficient force to put around 64,000 pound or a Boeing 737 jetliner filled with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel, into the planet’s orbit.
In addition, the rocket is actually capable of transporting up to 7,700 pounds (3,500 kg) into the remote planet of Pluto at the edge of the solar system. The previous rocket to exceed this quantity of payload was that the Saturn V rocket which put people on the moon back in 1973.
Presently, the second strongest rocket happens to be United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy and it can only put around half of the payload into the planet’s orbit in comparison with the Falcon Heavy.
Falcon Heavy. Elon Musk/Twitter
This is not the only reason why Falcon Heavy could be considered a game changer. As per SpaceX, the Falcon Heavy can put cargo into the low-Earth Orbit for just $2,200 per kg and the starting price for one launching is $90 million. In Contrast, the Delta IV Heavy costs up to $350 million per launch, according to a report by The Verge.
In addition to this, the Falcon Heavy is made for reusability thereby making manufacturing costs effectively zero. The huge quantity of money necessary for launches is among the biggest challenges for distance explorations to distant planets, but using all the Falcon Heavy, SpaceX could interrupt the section of space travel.
So what’s exactly the Falcon Heavy likely to perform?
Quite simply put, the entire purpose of the launch is to set a 2008 Cherry Red Tesla Roadster into Martian orbit for a billion years, while the tune Starman by David Bowie is being played on a loop. Talk about theatrical.
In fact, The Verge reports that the car, which will also be carrying a dummy called as the ‘Starman’, could actually be set at the Hohmann transfer orbit round the Sun which will put the car as far out from the Sun as is the distance of Mars’ orbit. This way the automobile will prevent the chances of crashing into Mars and contaminating the outside with microbes from Earth.
The overall plan surrounding the launch is that SpaceX will try to property at 2 booster rockets back to Cape Canaveral on its concrete landing zone. The third booster is going to be directed to land in the center of the Atlantic Ocean on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship. If successful, though the odds are 50-50, these rockets can subsequently be constructed again for future launch missions.
Now Elon Musk has claimed that there’s a high chance that the rockets could blow off mid-way or in the very start of the launch. But if this does occur it would seriously jeopardise the reputation of SpaceX since the pioneer in future space missions. Furthermore, if the rocket blows up on the launching site, it would produce the place unusable for scheduling future launches of the Falcon Heavy.
SpaceX will soon be live streaming the entire launch from their site and YouTube.
However, there are a few factors at play like the wind speed and weather conditions that could delay the launching. Additionally, this being the very first launching of the Falcon Heavy, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some technical difficulties pushing the launching forward by a possibly a few days or so.
Even then we should think about ourselves as extremely blessed that such an exciting endeavour has finally gotten the green light.
We’ll be attracting all the details on the Falcon Heavy Launch our website, so stay tuned.