SpaceX releases photos of Falcon Heavy on Apollo launch site

Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster, the rocket's first payload, is visible inside the rocket in one of the pictures.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Jan 06, 2018
In anticipation of the Falcon Heavy's maiden launch this month, SpaceX has released photos and a video showing the rocket standing upright at the Kennedy Space Center's launchpad 39A, from which the Apollo Moon missions and space shuttles lifted off.

The silent video is available for viewing on SpaceX's Twitter and Instagram feeds.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is launching his red Tesla Roadster as payload on the rocket, which will carry it to an elliptical orbit around Mars.

"The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit," wrote Musk, who is also CEO of Tesla, an automaker, energy storage company, and manufacturer of solar panels.

"Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring," Musk wrote on Instagram, explaining his choice of payload.

"Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel," he stated, adding that the car will be playing the late David Bowie's song "Space Oddity" in Martian orbit.

A launch date has not yet been announced because the company is still conducting tests on the Falcon Heavy, which is designed to someday carry astronauts to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

"With more than five million pounds of thrust at liftoff--equal to approximately 18 747 aircraft at full power--Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two," the company noted in both its Twitter and Instagram accounts.

The Falcon Heavy's first stage is composed of 27 first stage Merlin engines, which are essentially three Falcon 9 cores strapped together.

Designed to be reused, all three boosters will return to Earth in vertical landings.

The rocket's second stage is composed of a single Merlin engine, which is used as the Falcon 9's upper stage.

Last July, Musk admitted the Falcon Heavy's initial launch might not be successful, saying he would consider even a failed launch to be a win for the project.

 

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