SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket to launch in November

Company releases video depicting successful launch and booster recovery.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Aug 26, 2017
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, designed to someday take astronauts to Mars, will launch for the first time in November of this year.

The rocket is 229.6 feet or 70 meters tall, with two stages, two boosters, three cores, and 27 engines. Its total thrust at liftoff is 5.13 million pounds, and it can carry up to 140,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit.

According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the Falcon Heavy has "two-thirds of the thrust of the Saturn V moon rocket" NASA used to send astronauts to the Moon between 1969 and 1972.

Although Musk admits a "lot can go wrong in the November launch," the company will spend $85 million to launch the Falcon Heavy from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Originally scheduled for a first flight in 2013, the Falcon Heavy, designed to carry heavy cargo into orbit, experienced delays that pushed back its initial flight date.

Its core booster is based on the one used for the Falcon 9. Two additional Falcon 9 rocket cores, attached to each side of the Falcon Heavy, will separate after launch, spin around in Earth's atmosphere, and land vertically on the initial launch pad using landing legs.

SpaceX released a video animation depicting a Falcon Heavy launch, complete with successful booster landings as well as core separation and return to Earth.

The ability to return and reuse the boosters will significantly reduce the cost of Falcon Heavy launches, SpaceX notes.

Unlike the boosters, the core will land on a barge in the ocean.

NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), which like the Falcon Heavy, will one day carry astronauts to the Moon and Mars, is even more powerful than the Falcon Heavy, as well as more expensive.

Each individual SLS launch is expected to cost $500 million.

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