By Jagriti Arora
Touted as the most powerful rocket in the world, Falcon Heavy is set to be launched from SpaceX’s launch site in Canaveral, Florida at 1:30 PM EST. Elon Musk, Space X CEO, declared that the vehicle, if successful, will attain a speed of 11km/sec on a “billion-year journey through deep space, even including Mars.” The rocket, in its test launch, shall not have any human in it. Probably in this light, the company has set-up a mannequin, in a SpaceX suit in a passenger seat of a Tesla Roadster to send out as cargo. To make it poetic and playful, David Bowie’s hit song Space Oddity shall play in the car during the launch.
As a machine, Falcon heavy is quite a milestone, since it’s not only powerful but also cheap. It can purportedly lift over twice the payload Delta IV heavy can. Delta IV heavy is considered the next most powerful functional rocket. Although it costs about $350 million for Delta IV Heavy launch, it costs just around $90 million to launch a Falcon Heavy.
230 feet in height, the rocket can carry about 1,41,000 pounds of payload. Falcon Heavy combines the power of SpaceX’s three Falcon nine rockets in one and features a total of 27 Merlin engines. SpaceX reported, “The engines together generate more than five million pounds of thrust at lift-off, which is equal to eighteen 747 aircrafts.” The three cores are planned to be launched together, two outer cores would break away and land back to the earth. The centre core would head towards The Atlantic and land on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship in the ocean, after putting the cargo in what’s called Hohmann Transfer Orbit.
If successful, the launch could bring a lot of business to SpaceX. Upon a successful launch, SpaceX should be able to send a heavier satellite into the orbit and even people into deep space. If successful, Falcon Heavy is scheduled to place communication satellite for Operator Arabsat of Saudi Arabia in early 2018. Along with putting up two hefty satellites for Inmarsat and Viasat, it is booked to test payload for US Airforce. There are not only the prospects of Space Tourism but also of sending out National Security Satellites in the orbit.
What if it fails?
Elon Musk, however, likes to keep his expectations low. He reiterated that there’s a huge probability that the test launch will not succeed. “I would consider it a win if just clear the pad and doesn’t blow the pad to Smithereens,” he added. He also fears that “there’s a tiny, tiny chance that it will hit Mars,” when during its journey, Falcon Heavy comes close to it. The damage of failure would depend on where the rocket fails though. If the machine blows up during its ascent to space, no damage shall be incurred by anyone or anything. If it blows near the pad, it will damage the pad and also put a halt to other operations that are scheduled to happen from the pad. Let’s hope SpaceX reputation remains intact as the launching pad.
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius