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

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."

--

 

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Why the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner won’t feature a comedian in 2019

It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
Culture & Religion
  • The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
  • The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
  • Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
Keep reading Show less

Juice is terrible for children. Why do we keep giving it to them?

A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.

Pixabay user Stocksnap
popular

Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you. 

Keep reading Show less

A new study says alcohol changes how the brain creates memories

A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
  • This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
  • The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
Keep reading Show less