SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket passes crucial test, launch date imminent

Tickets are on sale to view the launch of SpaceX's largest rocket, the Falcon Heavy, which carries with it humanity's ambition to land astronauts on the surface of Mars.

The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, is now selling tickets to view the launch of SpaceX's largest rocket, the Falcon Heavy, which carries with it humanity's ambition to land astronauts on Mars.


The announcement of ticket sales follows the successful "static test" of the Falcon Heavy's engines, a crucial stage in determining that the rocket is ready to launch. While a launch date is not currently scheduled, SpaceX founder Elon Musk expects to launch within "a week or so."

The Falcon Heavy rocket currently sits upright on a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center. During the static test which took place on January 24, its engines were ignited creating but without the rocket taking off. A plume of steam is created during static testing, however, that gives the impression of a rocket at liftoff. 

First static fire test of Falcon Heavy complete—one step closer to first test flight! pic.twitter.com/EZF4JOT8e4

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 24, 2018

When it launches, the Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket in operation with 5 million pounds of thrust, but not the most powerful rocket ever. The Apollo 11 rocket, which first carried humans to surface of the moon—Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin—had 7.5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff.

To get 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, the two-stage Falcon Heavy has 27 first-stage Merlin enginesas SpaceX states. That’s three times as many engines as are on SpaceX’s current workhorse rocket, the Falcon 9. 

If the Falcon Heavy launches successfully, it will become a commercially available spacecraft capable of carrying heavier payloads into Earth's orbit. The rocket would also become NASA's preferred way of reaching the moon or Mars with a crew astronauts.

According to the Verge, the Falcon Heavy will carry Elon Musk's personal Tesla roadster as its virgin payload, carrying the electric car into an orbit around the sun that is the same distance away as Mars' orbit.

The dream, of course, is to land astronauts on the Red Planet, a goal NASA aims to complete by 2030. Before sending a crew of humans directly to Mars, however, it may use the Falcon Heavy to establish a moon base that serves as a 'filling station' for a Mars mission. As astronaut Ron Garan told Big Think, "from a long-term point of view it makes sense to have the next step being to return to the moon, this time to stay."

--

 

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

The philosophy of tragedy & the tragedy of philosophy - with Simon Critchley

Tragedy in art, from Ancient Greece to Breaking Bad, resists all our efforts to tie reality up in a neat bow, to draw some edifying lesson from it. Instead it confronts us with our own limitations, leaving us scrabbling in the rubble of certainty to figure out what's next.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why democracy has been unpopular with philosophers
  • Tragedy's reminder that the past isn't finished with us
  • …and why we need art in the first place
Keep reading Show less

A bionic lens undergoing clinical trials could soon give you superhuman abilities

We're talking Ghost in the Shell type of stuff. 

popular

Maybe you watched Ghost in the Shell and maybe afterwards you and your friend had a conversation about whether or not you would opt in for some bionic upgrades if that was possible - like a liver that could let you drink unlimitedly or an eye that could give you superhuman vision. And maybe you had differing opinions but you concluded that it's irrelevant because the time to make such choices is far in the future. Well, it turns out, it's two years away.

Keep reading Show less

Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

Culture & Religion
  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Keep reading Show less