SpaceX has been gunning for further and heavier orbital missions by building its Falcon Heavy rocket booster. The Elon Musk-owned private space company has been promising the launch of the next huge rocket for over four years. And come 2017, we’ve finally gotten our first look at the central core of the working rocket booster. It has successfully completed its first-ever static fire test, which means it is getting closer to its first space expedition.
First static fire test of a Falcon Heavy center core completed at our McGregor, TX rocket development facility last week. pic.twitter.com/tHUHc1QiKG
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 9, 2017
As can be seen in the video attached above, the Falcon Heavy core engine (it has three engines) has been strapped down to the launch pad at SpaceX’s test site and development facility in McGregor, Texas. The booster’s engine was then flipped on to check for any flaws and thrust/pressure data was collected. This is the first time we’re seeing the complete Falcon Heavy rocket in action.
Falcon Heavy, for those unaware, is the next-gen and more powerful version of the Falcon 9 currently being used for launches. These Falcon 9 rocket boosters can only carry up to 50,000 pounds to space whereas Falcon Heavy will be capable of ferrying close to about 140,000 pounds to the orbit. The central engine of the Falcon Heavy rocket has roughly been constructed by strapping together three Falcon 9 cores — providing it thrice the thrust.
The central engine of the Falcon Heavy rocket has roughly been constructed by strapping together three Falcon 9 cores — providing it thrice the thrust. It will consist of three engines in total, where the two additional rockets on the side will be equivalent to the Falcon 9 itself. The central core packs extra ‘hardware support’ to support the additional boosters attached to it — the extra thrust is needed to carry humans around the moon and later to Mars.
SpaceX has been developing this rocket booster for the last four odd years. It will prove to be the next step in the evolution of SpaceX as it plans on achieving full reusability with this rocket. The company is not only planning to return the first stage rocket booster back on Earth but also the second stage and nose cone fairings, which protect the payload, will also be recovered. Musk believes that it may not be successful the first time around but that’s the plan for the long run.
Falcon Heavy has been under development since 2011 when it was first announced by Elon Musk. SpaceX was earlier gunning for the first flight using the Falcon Heavy back in 2013, but its plans have been delayed until date. However, the company has since perfected its landing technology and the successful test fire shows that the Falcon Heavy is ready for a launch in second quarter of 2017. SpaceX is targeting a launch at the end of the summer from the historic Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.