SpaceX has targeted Mar 7 to launch its huge Falcon Heavy rocket, carrying a communications satellite for Saudi Arabia, from Kennedy Space Center. The Falcon Heavy launched a less conventional payload on its maiden flight in Feb 2018 – a cherry red Tesla roadster and a mannequin driver named Starman.
This second assignment for Falcon Heavy, the rocket designed to carry humans to the Moon and Mars, is also part of the company’s continuing experiment in reusability. Like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, the Heavy is a two-stage rocket with a reusable first stage. Space.com reports that the Heavy’s first stage consists of three Falcon 9 first stages: a modified central core and two side boosters. All three of these boosters are designed to land back on Earth and fly again, according to the publication.
The SpaceX spec sheet describes the Falcon Heavy, which is capable of carrying about 70.5 tons (64 metric tons) to Earth orbit, as the most powerful rocket flying today – by far.
SpaceX owner Elon Musk envisions a future when rockets can be turned around for reuse every 24 hours. Reusing hardware is expected to slash the cost of space flight.
He used the 2018 maiden flight as a cross-promotional opportunity for his other business, the electric carmaker Tesla. Car and driver are en route to orbit the Sun.
Date written/update: 2019-02-07