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Falcon Heavy Maiden Launch Set for 1:30 PM EST (6:30 PM UTC)

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-02-06 04:28:24

SpaceX's newest rocket, the Falcon Heavy [], is set to be launched at around 1:30 PM EST (6:30 PM UTC) today. The launch window extends to 4:00 PM EST (9:00 PM UTC).

SpaceX will attempt to recover all three boosters during the launch []. The two previously-flown side boosters will attempt to land nearly simultaneously at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Landing Zones 1 and 2. The center core will attempt to land on a drone barge hundreds of miles off the coast of Florida.

The dummy payload for the Falcon Heavy is Elon Musk's personal 2008 Tesla Roadster []. It is carrying a mannequin wearing SpaceX's space suit flight suit [] that will be used when the company begins to send astronauts to the International Space Station. The car will be launched into a heliocentric orbit that will bring it close to Mars (and back near Earth) periodically [], and is equipped with three cameras. Its stereo system will be playing David Bowie's Space Oddity [].

If the launch is successful, the Falcon Heavy could be flown within the next 3 to 6 months for a customer such as the U.S. Air Force, Arabsat, Inmarsat, or ViaSat.

Falcon Heavy will be capable of launching 63,800 kg to low-Earth orbit (LEO), 26,700 kg to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO), 16,800 kg to Mars, or 3,500 kg to Pluto (New Horizons [] was 478 kg). It will supplant the Delta IV Heavy [], which is capable of launching 28,790 kg to LEO or 14,220 kg to GTO. Space Launch System [] Block 1 will be capable of launching 70,000 kg to LEO (Block 1B: 105,000 kg to LEO, Block 2: 130,000 kg to LEO).

Musk has suggested that an additional two side boosters could be added [] to Falcon Heavy (perpendicularly?) to make a "Falcon Super Heavy" with even more thrust. This may not happen if SpaceX decides to focus on the BFR [] instead, which as planned would be able to launch 150,000 kg to LEO while being fully reusable and potentially cheaper than the Falcon 9 (or capable of launching 250,000 kg to LEO in expendable mode).

The webcast can be seen here [] or directly on YouTube [].

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