SpaceX has been preparing the world’s most powerful rocket, Falcon Heavy, for its first launch in more than three years. Powered by three modified Falcon 9 first stage boosters, the massive launch system is now interconnected. It awaits launch from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Ahead of the launch, SpaceX shared an image of the giant’s 27 Merlin engines on Twitter. Let’s get to the details of this interesting news.
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SpaceX Planned Falcon Heavy Launch
Falcon Heavy combines the modified Falcon 9 rocket, the class used to carry Starlink satellites into orbit, humans to the International Space Station and a range of scientific, communications and military payloads.
Only two of these Falcon 9s will land for a signature SpaceX booster landing, as the central booster will de-orbit and land at sea after carrying the second stage into orbit.
Falcon Heavy’s 27 Merlin engines produce nearly 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, making it the world’s most powerful operational rocket. The space services company is also working on the fully reusable Mars-bound Starship rocket, which is expected to generate a staggering 17 million pounds of thrust thanks to 33 next-generation Raptor engines.
For now, SpaceX says on its website, the Falcon Heavy is “the world’s most powerful operational rocket by a factor of two.” The massive launch system is capable of lifting almost 64 metric tons (141,000 lb) into orbit.
The Falcon Heavy on Pad 39A will be used for USSF-44, a mission for the US Space Force that will launch two satellites into a geostationary orbit. Although the launch date has not been officially announced, it is expected to fly at some point next week or early November.
USSF-44 will be the first Falcon Heavy launch since June 2019 due to a series of payload delays exacerbated by the pandemic. It will also be only the fourth launch in the rocket’s history.